until 15.06. | #2452ARTatBerlin | Crone Berlin currently shows the exhibition 100 Cuts of the German-Austrian artist Clemens Krauss.
We are very pleased to be able to present the “100 Cuts” exhibition by German-Austrian artist Clemens Krauss for Gallery Weekend Berlin. It comprises a hundred oil paintings in the same format, painted with Krauss’ typical paste-like methods of application and showing “closeups” of male and female sexual organs.
With the “100 Cuts” project, Krauss, whose work often connects with political, cultural and social contexts, presents the problems of a topic that is both sensitive and taboo: religious/ritually-motivated infringement of the integrity of the human body. In his images, he shows no more and no less than the surgical removal, usually carried out on minors, of parts of the sexual organs: the circumcision of the penis or the generally more severe procedures, rightly considered mutilation, performed on the female genitalia.
The word “cut” here takes on two meanings: the sectioning of the image and the incision into the body. The close detail of the sections gives vivid insight into the intimate parts of the human body. The actual cutting that has taken place remains unclear in many of the works. However, the key message is that these procedures are not just about a physical incision, but rather a curtailment of the right to personal self-determination. Alongside irreversible, often lifethreatening injuries, in many cases those affected also suffer psychological scarring.
These operations are usually justified with reference to matters of cultural identity, tradition or religious customs. However, generally speaking, they are a cover for sexualised and ritualised mechanisms of power and subjugation. Often, their intent is to maintain patriarchal structures.
Although FGM (female genital mutilation) has been declared illegal in almost every country by this point, there has been a resurgence in the practice over the past few years. It is estimated that it currently affects around 200 million women. Due to migration, the number of underage girls in Germany and across Europe whose genitals are cut, mutilated or even sewn together is steadily increasing, without the general public acting against it or even taking notice. Thanks to legal exemptions, operations on the male genitalia may be carried out almost anywhere in the world today, including in Europe and the USA, without criminal punishment. Even though the circumcision of the male member does not, as a rule, have such drastic consequences as female genital mutilation, it does represent an actual bodily harm as the law stands, but it is one that, for traditional or religious reasons, is not punished.
According to our basic values dating back to the Enlightenment and fundamental European human rights, genital mutilation and circumcision are an infringement of the right to bodily integrity and self-determination. In addition, they infringe on the elementary rights of the child. Despite this, the subject is considered taboo. The affected area of the body is too sensitive an issue, addressing religious and cultural traditions too delicate.
Clemens Krauss is now breaking this taboo through his work. Using drastic artistic methods and the evocative power of art, he is calling attention to the explosive nature of the problem. He turns our gaze, in the truest sense of the word, to an area which we, as enlightened as we may be, still suppress. His paste-like method of paint application, almost flesh-like in itself, both conceals and reveals. Often, contours and outlines can only be determined on closer inspection. This method of painting has two effects: on the one hand, it makes identification of the sexual organ as male or female more difficult. In Krauss’ comprehensive series, this engenders a particular sense of plurality and diversity, breaking down the supposed limits of normality.
On the other hand, this blurriness produces a tension that is almost threatening in effect. Similar to the painting of Gerhard Richter, who distorts photographic images through the medium of oils, Krauss’ works create a sense of unease. But while Richter references profoundly important moments in German history, such as the terror of National Socialism, Krauss takes as his subject an exceptionally explosive, current social issue. The work is less about criticising religious traditions than exploring the vulnerability of a sensitive, highly personal part of the body. Above all, it is about the freedom of physical self-determination.
Clemens Krauss was born in 1981 in Graz, Austria, and has lived in Berlin since 2007. He can already look back on a considerable number of institutional exhibitions, among others in China, Japan, Brazil, Spain, France, Australia, Britain and the USA. This year, he is taking part in the Havana Biennial in Cuba and the International Curitiba Biennial in Brazil.
Vernissage: Friday, 26 April 2019, 7:00 bis 9:00 p.m.
Exhibition period: Saturday, 27 April to Saturday, 15 June 2019Zur Galerie Crone
Image caption: Courtesy of Crone Berlin – Clemens Krauss
Exhibition Clemens Krauss – Crone Berlin | Zeitgenössische Kunst in Berlin | Contemporary Art | Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin