until 16.04. | #3370ARTatBerlin | FeldbuschWiesnerRudolph (FWR) shows from 19th March 2022 the exhibition NEW ANATOMIES with works by 12 artists. Based on Ulrike Ottinger’s iconic photograph “The Secret of Madame X (Tabea Blumenschein)” (1977), Sara-Lena Maierhofer and Flo Maak have invited young colleagues to use Ottinger’s work to tell their own stories of identity, gender, corporeality, and desire.
Participating artists: Adelaide Damoh, Magdalena Emmerig & Flo Maak, Harry Hachmeister, Almut Hilf, Sara-Lena Maierhofer, Ulrike Ottinger, Laura Schawelka, Maria Sturm, Rebecca Ann Tess, Theresa Weber and Latefa Wiersch.
„I wish to escape from a crystallised identity,…“
Josephine de Collage (Yvonne Rainer) in “Madame X. Eine absolute Herrscherin,” 1977
Images of heroes have long been cast in bronze, often placed on a horse and raised on a pedestal so that future generations would remember the achievements of these men. Some of these supposed heroes have been pushed from their thrones and turned into scrap metal. Many still await their fall. What to do with the vacated pedestals is being debated. Should we immortalize our heroines there or demonstratively leave the pedestals unoccupied to draw attention to the untold stories of unknown heroines?
Rarely does a woman find herself enshrined as a statue, and when she does, it is more as a reclining muse, admired not for her (heroic) deeds but for her beautiful being. While heroines are already barely visible – in public space as well as in museums and history books – non-binary and trans-identitary figures in history are virtually invisible. There is also a lack of adequate representation for the memory of the collective movements to which we owe visibility, participation, and freedom in the choice of partners, professions, and identities.
For those born in the 1980s, like us, pop culture figures in the 1990s allowed us to break out of our small-town identity tristesse. We didn’t have a vocabulary to describe our otherness. We used images of bodies and gestures to compare reality with ourselves and our mirror images. Later, we came across Judith Butler’s texts, which, for all their intellectual overload, provided us with a vocabulary for our struggles with constraining role models.
Today, our generation, as well as those who came before and after us, have a broader repertoire of images, gestures, and vocabularies that allow us to confidently occupy public spaces and to more boldly and imaginatively envision alternative ways of living. We write this knowing the fragile social gains and our own privileges in times of neo-fascist movements that like to pin the decline of civilization on the imagined “gender frenzy.”
The photographic work “Das Geheimnis der Madame X” by Ulrike Ottinger depicts Tabea Blumenschein as a doubled heroine with tensed biceps and adorning chest hair. The image seems to us like a message in a bottle; sent in 1977 and arrived in the present to defend as superheroine the achievements of the last decades. With New Anatomies we are sending our own message in a bottle. The contributions to this exhibition fill the empty pedestals with their own narratives, dissecting traditional role models and developing alternative figurations of material and gender from these fragments.
Text: Flo Maak and Sara-Lena Maierhofer
Opening: Saturday 19 March 2022, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Exhibition dates: Saturday, 19 March to Saturday, 16 April 2022To the Gallery
Image caption title image: Ulrike Ottinger, Das Geheimnis der Madame X (Tabea Blumenschein), Kontext: Madame X – Eine absolute Herrscherin. Insel Mainau, 1977, Copyright © Ulrike Ottinger
Exhibition New Anatomies – FeldbuschWiesnerRudolph | Contemporary Art – Kunst in Berlin Exhibitions Berlin Galleries – ART at Berlin