until 14.04. | #3800ARTatBerlin | Luisa Catucci Gallery presents from 8. March 2023 (Opening: 07.03.) the exhibition Matrixial Space by the artists Annegret Soltau, Elena Helfrecht, Imogen-Blue Hinojosa, Karina-Sirkku Kurz, Loreal Prystaj, Nina Röder and Teri Varhol.
The group exhibition Matrixial Spaces, hosted at Luisa Catucci Gallery during the European Month of Photography in Berlin, brings together seven unique photographic positions that deal intensively with the symbolic feminine gaze, as well as the psychologic maternal dimension of the creative process that goes along with it. This concept is based on Bracha L. Ettinger’s theory of the Matrixial Gaze, which emerged in the 1990s as a counterpart to the phallocentric views of psychoanalysts such as Freud and Lacan.
Imogen-Blue Hinojosa, Selfportait window
The Matrix (from Latin matrix, »womb«) according to Ettinger functions as a psychological-philosophical construct in metaphorical reference to the uterus to discuss the origins of ethical understanding and human relationality. The concept of Inner Space, from which art and photography ultimately spring, is closely related to this. Creativity can be understood as the fruitful mergence of an external, haptic reality with an internal, emotional one, resulting in the artwork.
Ettinger defines the principle of conception and filiation ultimately as feminine, which leads to the Matrix as an overarching psychological scheme. On that basis she formulates the theory of a symbolic, female-maternal sphere of encounter to which one is first exposed in the womb. Consequently, she views aesthetics and creativity primarily in terms of compassion, respect, care, and responsibility for one another. The principle of the Matrix does not assume a demarcation of the self, but propagates a perception of tolerance and togetherness: the peaceful co-emergence of what she describes as I and Non-I. According to art historian and cultural analyst Griselda Pollock, Ettinger’s theory of the Matrix offers an alternative to the »notion of the discrete and singular subject formed by the establishment of the boundaries that distinguish it from an oceanic or undifferentiated otherness of the world […].«
Elena Helfrecht, A Lament, 2018
Against the background of Ettinger’s theory, the exhibited works deal with the creative process and this inherently symbolic-feminine perception (which is not necessarily bound to a biological gender), manoeuvring between art, aesthetic theory, philosophy, and psychology.
Annegret Soltau uses her own body as artistic material to deal with the basic questions of human existence: »I use myself as a model, because with myself I can go further than with anyone else. « The thread that runs red through her life’s work is the core symbol within the shown works. In the photo performance »Selbst« 1–21 (1975/2022) she shows, image by image, how her face is spun further and further into a black thread until it almost disappears. Her work evokes the process of a spider; there is a note of something predatory and dangerous in the black web, a kind of helplessness, but it also calls to mind the tender, mending process of weaving. »The thread also represents a factor that connects and repairs, that brings the torn parts together and holds them there, the tears in one’s own biography remain as visible as wrinkles, as marks of life.« This aspect of violence and healing appears even more distinctively in the work »In mir SELBST« 2 and 3 (2010). Annegret’s work oscillates – like the process of giving birth – between maternal tenderness and archaic force.
Annegret Soltau, Self 16, 1975/2022
Loreal Prystaj’s works are deeply rooted in surrealism and the archetypical symbolism of psychoanalysis. The female body and the domestic play a crucial role. By staging herself as an erotic prop, Loreal transforms the familiar home into a stage illuminating the inner workings of women past and present. By impersonating or playing the house, she reclaims these estranged and alienating domestic spaces, stripping away the shackles placed on women by history and society with a hint of irony.
Teri Varhol’s epic work »Homo Normalis« (2018) is presented for the first time in this exhibition. For an entire year, the artist documented herself with a Polaroid camera – with one strict restriction: she allowed herself only one picture per day, to capture the essence of the day and herself. No second attempts. The result is a deeply vulnerable, honest work that stands in stark contrast to the illusions of modern selfie culture. The viewer becomes a voyeur and confidant, the artist a symbol of the true, unmasked self.
Teri Varhol, Homo-Normalis, 1 polaroid a day 4 1 year, 03
Imogen-Blue Hinojosa transports the viewer into an alternative world between autobiography and fiction. Working across the still and moving image, textile and narrative writing, her work explores intimacy, trauma, and the stage as a site of the suspension of disbelief. In her featured video work »Kameha-Mija!« (2019), she demonstrates particular courage, confronting the streets where she has regularly faced transphobia. Confidently, without taking her eyes off the camera, she dances her way through her surroundings. The two photographs that complement the video are more melancholic in nature and deal with the desire for acceptance and a life free of fear.
Karina-Sirkku Kurz shows an excerpt from her body of work »Supernature« (2015-2019), in which she treats the body as a malleable, sculptural object. An important context is provided by aesthetic plastic surgery – the highly invasive practice of altering one’s physical appearance according to specific aesthetic ideas. She bases her thoughts on the book »Our Strange Body« (2014) by the Dutch philosopher Jenny Slatman. At the interface of medicine and humanities, Slatman argues that »[…] our so-called body always contains a strange dimension. And it is precisely because of this element of strangeness within us that we are able to take in the foreign and adapt to radical bodily changes.«
Karina-Sirkku Kurz, Untitled, from SUPERNATURE, 2015-2019
With its melancholic visual language, Nina Röder’s series »Bath in Brilliant Green« (2015–2017) presents a poetic perspective on different forms of helplessness and loss. In associative arrangements of portraits, landscapes, and still life motifs – often created in darkness – she approaches metaphors of letting go. Staged images of marble-like bodies, frequently in a performative correlation with the surrounding nature, question the meaning of human existence. Her works »Her« and »Him« may refer to the absurdity of human origins.
Opening: Tuesday, 7. March 2023, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Exhibition dates: Wednesday, 8. March – Friday, 14. April 2023To the Gallery
Image caption title: Nina Roeder, Her and Him, from Bath in Brilliant Green, 2015-2017
Exhibition Matrixial Space – Luisa Catucci Gallery | Zeitgenössische Kunst Berlin – Contemporary Art – Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin