A trip to Zwickau in Western Saxony will appeal to anyone interested in the composer Robert Schumann, who was born in the town, but also to car enthusiasts keen to discover more about the automotive industry’s rich heritage in the region at the August Horch Museum. In addition, Saxony’s fourth largest town has a lot to offer art lovers too. The impressive Max Pechstein Museum is home to the Zwickau Art Collections, where many Gothic and Baroque sculptures, historic images and impressionist paintings in particular are on display.

Does woman = housewife?

The gallery also engages with more contemporary topics. In this vein, a special exhibition entitled Desperate Housewives? opened on 13 February 2016. Borrowing the name of the famous American TV series, the exhibition showcases how some 30 women artists from around the world see the role of women in the home today. Is there still such a thing as the traditional housewife, given that most women go out to work? Do women still choose to define their identity through their home or do they simply have no choice because the traditional division of roles between men and women remains deeply ingrained in our society?

Provocative, humorous, thought-provoking

The ways in which the 29 artists address this controversial topic are as different as the characters in the eponymous TV show. The wide variety of perspectives include humorous installations, ironic photo series, provocative video art and thought-provoking paintings and sketches. Jutta Burkhardt, for instance, presents outfits for the “perfect housewife” that have been created by sewing together cleaning equipment such as dusters and washing-up sponges, while the clothing worn by the women in Maria Ezcurra’s photographs blends seamlessly into the home, merging with the tablecloth or curtains. Painter Rosa Loy focuses on the escape from everyday constraints, and Anke Eilergerhard’s bright, kitsch sculptures made of crockery are reminiscent of The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland.

While not every artistic intention is apparent at first sight, Desperate Housewives? certainly provides food for thought. Whether you are a man or a liberated woman, this exhibition alone makes a visit to Zwickau worthwhile. Desperate Housewives? can be seen at the Zwickau Art Collections until 8 May 2016.