THE MEDEA INSURRECTION: RADICAL WOMEN ARTISTS BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN
November 10, 2019 to April 5, 2020 A
MUSEUM O F T H E C O L D WA R
INTRODUCTION Under the cloak of the accepted artistic media, radical women artists provoked, protested, played with fire and experimented. Working in the former peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s republics of Hungary, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and the German Democratic Republic, they rejected socialist and bourgeois role models alike. With this double refusal they usually exposed themselves to more risk than their male colleagues. Yet it is precisely this compounded degree of defiance and energy in their pictorial language that still makes itself felt today. If their artistic approaches contradicted the teachings of a given art college, this was not so much because the doctrine of Socialist Realism was demanded everywhere with equal fervor, but because innovative techniques and motifs tended to rouse suspicions. The tighter the grip of state repression, the more established independent counter-publics became: in urban subculture, in church circles, in rural havens, or in applied fields such as crafts or architecture. The Medea Insurrection draws together these female positions and presents them in the context of their Eastern European origins. At long last, their aesthetic originality and struggle for visibility are given a stage. To show topical connections between the Cold War past in Eastern Europe and the here and now, the Wende Museum invited three artists working in L.A. today whose works resonate with the themes in the exhibition.
The Medea Insurrection was conceptualized and curated by Susanne Altmann for the Albertinum (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden). It has been adapted for its Culver City appearance by the Wende Museumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Anna Rose Canzano, Dany Naierman, and Joes Segal.
The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain is part of Wunderbar Together: The Year of German-American Friendship 2018/19, an initiative funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, implemented by the Goethe-Institut, and supported by the Federation of German Industries (BDI).
Magdalena Abakanowicz “Abakanowicz did not have to explode the social-realist canon; instead she overcame the decidedly older tradition of weaving – with its materials and techniques – not only through interventions into the third dimension and through her series of Abakans, but also through a denial of functional use, which removed boundaries between genres in this after all very conservative field.”1 This is art historian Anda Rottenberg’s pithy account of the essence of the life and work of Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930–2017). Although the artist pursued classical studies in painting – first in Sopot, then in Warsaw – she soon turned to this new medium, taking textile classes accompanying her studies. Magdalena Abakanowicz, La Seur, 1979, sisal, Poland. Courtesy of Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw
In the early 1960s, she began to develop her own innovative weaving method, which very soon led to expansive and autonomous forms – not least of all because Abakanowicz was working with fibers like horsehair, sisal, and hemp, which had their very own energy and texture and were unusual in fine-art weaving at the time.2 The powerful spatial effect of the Abakans, her trademark at the time, received international attention at the textile biennials in Lausanne (1962–1976) and were perceived as revolutionary and exemplary. Her works were no longer informed by meticulously executed pictorial tapestries in so-called Aubusson style, which were designed with the use of cartoons. She overcame the panel painting3, taking orientation from folk art and its more liberal design. The synergy of monumentality and visibly organic materials recalls vegetative growth, natural processes, and ultimately also animist or magical force fields. In 1968, Kazimierz Mucha’s film Abakany was created (1970), which follows the artist as she prepares and installs her objects in the legendary shifting dunes of the Polish seaside town of Łeba. Assistants carry the Abakans, which hang from staffs, across the sand, looking like prehistoric hunters or keepers of the Golden Fleece.4 Later on as well, in her “post-textile” phase, Magdalena Abakanowicz deliberately pursued this proximity to nature and the archaic insofar as she worked with bronze, stone, iron, and tree trunks in their raw, unrestrained materiality. SA Starting in 1969, Abakanowicz began to exhibit her work in the United States, including at UCLA and a 1971 solo exhibition at the Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum). In California, she gained popularity among the burgeoning women’s art scene, yet she rejected the sexual interpretations of her work by American feminists. She objected to being called a “woman artist” and saw the artmaking process as gender-neutral.5 Like many other Eastern European women artists of her generation, Abakanowicz was at odds with Western feminism. Her indifference to gender issues resulted from the belief in gender equality ingrained in socialist society, although the reality was often different. La Seur, on view in the Wende Museum, uses sisal, a material characteristic of her earlier, pre-Abakan experimentations. According to Zachęta Gallery, the title probably contains a spelling mistake (either sueur, French for sweat, or sœur, sister), but it is unknown whether the mistake was deliberate. The title is left as the artist’s record as it appears on the back of the textile. ARC
1 Anda Rottenberg, ‘Das Universelle im Eigenen. Einige Bemerkungen zur Ausstellung,’ in Matthias Flügge, ed., Der Riss im Raum: Positionen der Kunst seit 1945 in Deutschland, Polen, der Slowakei und Tschechien, exh. cat. Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, and Galerie Zacheta, Warschau (Berlin 1994), 53–57, here 55. 2 Ursula Grzechca-Mohr, ‘Magdalena Abakanowicz,’ in Ryszard Stanislawski and Christoph Brockhaus, Europa, Europa: Das Jahrhundert der Avantgarde in Mittel und Osteuropa, exh. cat. Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Stiftung Kunst und Kultur des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, ed., vol 1: Bildende Kunst. Fotografie. Videokunst (Bonn, 1994), 301. 3 Christoph Brockhaus, ‘Magdalena Abakanowicz, Peter und Ritzi Jacob, Jagoda Buić, Jiří Tichý,’ in ibid., 341. 4 Kazimierz Mucha, Abakany (1968–1970), 13 min, music by Bogusław Schäffer. 5 Joanna Inglot, The Figurative Sculpture of Magdalena Abakanowicz: Bodies, Environtments, and Myths (Oakland, 2004).
Allerleirauh For twelve months, Angelika Kroker and Katerina Reinwald1 worked on their performance The Thing Made of Light, Space, Sound, and Leather (Das Ding aus Licht, Raum, Klang und Leder). Then, on May 13, 1988, at the soldout Haus der Jungen Talente venue in East Berlin, a scenic and musical Gesamtkunstwerk unfolded. At the center of it were items of clothing inspired by a rebellious punk aesthetic which also drew on a fantastical reading of the fairy tale Allerleirauh (All-kinds-of-fur) as passed down by the Brothers Grimm. In the tale, the coat of many colors, made from different animal furs, symbolizes the role of clothing as protection, as social camouflage, as identifier, and as a liberated territory. Angelika Kroker’s associative interpretation here provided the name for the performance and fashion group. Another collective, dubbed as chic, charmant & dauerhaft (chic, charming and long-lasting, or ccd) had previously explored the subject of fashion as a form of self-expression. Beginning around 1982, they sewed up a storm in an effort to oppose the visual uniformity of life in East Germany, their semi-legal performances becoming a must-see for all young insiders who wanted to make a habit of setting themselves off from the norm. As ccd, Esther Friedemann, Allerleirauh (All-kinds-of-fur) coat, 1988, leather, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist Allerleirauh had its roots not only in this but also in another phenomenon: at the time individuals, on their own initiative, were making unusual clothing which was then sold for profit in a kind of shadow economy. In their collection, the clothing makers of Allerleirauh concentrated on leather as a vehicle of meaning that stood “in contrast to East Germany’s fashion economy of scarcity […]. Leather is a rarity in the planned economy … By means of innovative, self-developed processing techniques … costumes and accessories are created,”2 which were sculpted as it were and featured scales, ruffles, paint, studs, and nails. Sven Marquardt and Sibylle Bergemann were two photographers who refined these creations in their images and gave them a platform outside the events. Bergemann, whose daughter Frieda von Wild was also active as a performer in Allerleirauh, brought with her the melancholic, emblematic pictorial language that she had become well versed in through many years of working for the fashion magazine Sibylle. Not only does the aura of the outfits and the elegant defiance of the models hold up today, so too does the essence of the work as discerned by East German subculture expert Henryk Gericke: “The pathos of power became overlaid with a pathos of romanticism – in spectacular performances and photographs intercut with the worn-out reality, with motifs of extravagant sensuality inserted into the tristesse.”3 SA
Esther Friedemann, Allerleirauh (All-kinds-of-fur) ticket, 1988, leather, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist
1 Following their first performance, the personnel of the group changed, resulting in Katarina Reinwald not being part of the second show at the Berlin church Gethsemanekirche in December 1989. 2 Andrea Prause, Catwalk wider den Sozialismus. Die alternative Modeszene der DDR in den 1980er Jahren (Berlin, 2018), 343. 3 Henryk Gericke, ‘Mode-Subkultur. Die Dissidenz der Unpolitischen,’ in Michael Boehlke et al., ed., In Grenzen frei: Mode, Fotografie, Underground in der DDR 1979–1989, exh. cat. Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Bielefeld and Leipzig, 2009), 15.
Tina Bara In 1983, Tina Bara (b. 1962) enrolled in a science of history program in East Berlin, where she, as she later put it, studied “the wrong thoughts at the wrong place.”1 But as a member of the activist group Women for Peace (Frauen für den Frieden),2 she sharpened her critical and political consciousness. It is from this perspective that she began to photograph the world around her, defining an understanding of herself most often in the photographic other. In 1986, she began to study with Arno Fischer, taking a long-distance course from the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig. Fischer, with whom “one didn’t Tina Bara, Boredom, 2016, photo-film (400 b/w photographs, 1983–1989), Germany. Courtesy of the artist have to play-act,” gave her room to breathe.3 She knew that she was able to articulate herself much better through art, something she had recognized even before completing her history degree. Soon the self-taught artist at home in Berlin’s subculture was accepted to the VBK (Verband Bildender Künstler der DDR), the fine artists’ association of the GDR, which gave her a degree of economic stability. Toward the end of her studies in 1988, she completed her photographic cycle Untitled (o. T.) in fourteen parts, which consists of almost painful close-ups of female bodies, in which spatiality is almost entirely crowded out by physical presence: skin, hair, bodily orifices. In this way, Bara seeks to couple “intimacy with a societal state” of uneasiness.4 Yet, when focusing on the woman as her subject, she is not following a program; rather this focus results from her own life circumstances. She simply knows women more closely: “My female gaze arose from my biography and from my personal search for identity. A distancing feminist self-assertion was not our thing.”5 Looking back in 2009, she recalled equally that she did not by any means resist this gradual development of a specifically female view. This is reflected in Bara’s film of photographs Boredom (Lange Weile, 2016), which includes 400 black-and-white photographs taken between 1983 and 1989. In the film, she comments “in autobiographical fragments on the context from which the photographs came and tell(s), from today’s perspective – 30 years on – about the beginning of my development as an artist and the role of photography in it …”6 SA
Tina Bara, Boredom Archive, 1984–1988, black and white photographs, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist
1 Tina Bara, Lange Weile (Bore-Dom, film of photographs, 2016, HDV, sound, 62 min). 2 Ibid. 3 Tina Bara in an interview with the author, summer 2009. 4 Susanne Altmann and Ulrike Lorenz, eds., Entdeckt! Rebellische Künstlerinnen in der DDR, exh. cat. Kunsthalle Mannheim (Mannheim, 2011), 10. 5 Tina Bara in an interview with the author, summer 2009, unpublished. 6 Tina Bara, as quoted in Gabriele Muschter and Uwe Warnke, eds., In einem anderen Land: Transformationsprozesse an Beispielen zeitgenössischer Fotografie in Deutschland (Berlin, 2018), 22.
Annemirl Bauer The life-size Portrait of a Resettler from Thuringia (Bildnis einer Hergezogenen aus Thüringen, 1982), as both the title and the iconography indicate, makes ironic reference to the Old Master painting Portrait of Duchess Katharina von Mecklenburg (Porträt der Herzogin Katharina von Mecklenburg, 1514) by Lucas Cranach the Elder. With the monumental size, the grand pose, and the self-confident gaze, painter Annemirl Bauer (1939–1989) suggests that she is a kindred spirit of the progressive ruler and proponent of the Reformation. Bauer, who came from a Thuringian family of artists, turned her back on Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg in 1977 and acquired a rectory in the Brandenburg town of Niederwerbig. Here she came to be one of the most critical and steadfast artistic voices of East Germany. As early as 1965, when she submitted her thesis at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee,1 she indicated that social participation was central to her artistic self-conception.2 Creating pictorially unambiguous works and paying no heed to the professional and personal consequences – which came in the form of exclusion from the VBK (the fine artists’ association of the GDR) and strategic isolation, as brought about by the Stasi – Bauer broached uncomfortable subjects. By writing to functionaries and, above all, through her paintings, drawings, and collages, she protested: against East Germany’s disenfranchising and isolating measures, against spring-guns, against people killed at the wall, against the expatriation of critically minded intellectuals, Annemirl Bauer, The Convict, 1981, oil on hardboard, against pollution, and against the patriarchal order. East Germany. Courtesy of Annemirl Bauer Archive Her painted commentary on world events, which is juxtaposed with dreamy utopias and intimate observations made in her private life, is free from compositional constraints. Evocatively and poetically, her figures are anchored within the pictorial landscape, in which nearly everything – color, substrate, text – is charged with meaning. At the center of her work are always people, frequently women and children, depicted as individuals; they represent universal social and psychological questions. Bauer’s diaries, in which she wrote down her philosophical thoughts, interpreted current societal and political events, and shared personal experiences, testify to how strongly intertwined she understood life and art to be. KL Annemirl Bauer, Portrait of a Resettler from Thuringia, 1982, oil on hardboard, East Germany. Courtesy of Annemirl Bauer Archive
Annemirl Bauer, Cassandra, 1985, gouache on furniture piece, East Germany. Courtesy of Annemirl Bauer Archive
1 Bauer studied architectural art at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst Berlin-Weißensee from 1961 to 1965. In 1958, she completed training as a toy designer at the Fachschule für angewandte Kunst, Sonneberg. 2 “What is my task in this day, why do I paint? For whom do I paint? […] Artists are sensory organs and may be compared with creatures’ antennae and feelers, which exist to sense danger in time and pass [the information] on to the organs in charge without delay, thus protecting the organism.” Excerpt from her thesis Das neue Menschenbild (The New Conception of Human Beings), 1965.
Sibylle Bergemann That Sibylle Bergemann (1941–2010) is perceived today as one of the most well-known East German photo artists and that she practiced her occupation with great success until her death is owed to the artist’s diversified and long-term working style as well as her effective public presence. She gained recognition as early as the 1970s with her photographs for East Germany’s only real fashion magazine, Sibylle; later she published her photo reportages in well-known publications such as Geo and Der Spiegel. While photographers in East Germany were certainly expected to meet the demands for optimistic, socialist imagery, photography – as opposed to painting and literature – was not the focus of censorship, and this made it easier for photographers to integrate into the transforming structures after 1989. Bergemann’s path to photography was via a detour. In the early 1960s, having been trained as an editorial office secretary for Das Magazin, Bergemann was thrilled by the photographic contributions – an enthusiasm for the medium that would last a lifetime. It was in this context that she met Arno Fischer, whose documentary working style Sibylle Bergemann, Heike, Allerleirauh, Berlin, Design Angelika Kroker. Sibylle Bergemann Estate, OSTKREUZ; would have an influence on her. In 1966, she began to study photography with him Courtesy Loock Galerie, Berlin at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee, where he taught. Bergemann and Fischer became a couple, founded the independent photographers’ group Direkt and, in their Berlin apartment at Schiffbauerdamm, established an informal salon, which became a meeting place for fellow photographers, artists, and bohemians from all over the globe. From the outset, Bergemann’s commissioned and noncommissioned works alike show people in their social milieu. Even in her early photographic attempts, one encounters her characteristic style that walks the line between melancholy and intensity. In the subsequent decades, she created – alongside documentary series – numerous portraits of women and girls. Here, she repeatedly draws attention to individuals who rebel against real-socialist everyday life and the dreariness that surrounds them. As she explained once, “What interests me is the edge of the world, not the middle.” This fascination with the underground scene, with fashion, music, and theatre – where extravagance and a drive to be different always crystallize – can also be discerned in her photographic work showcasing the punk outfits created by the fashion and performance group Allerleirauh. KL
Sibylle Bergemann, Frieda, Fred, Heike, Allerleirauh, Berlin, Design Katharina Reinwald, Angelika Kroker. Sibylle Bergemann Estate, OSTKREUZ; Courtesy Loock Galerie, Berlin
1 Hiltrud Ebert, ‘Where are the women artists? An attempt to explain the disappearance of a generation of East German women artists,’ in Bojana Pejić, Erste Foundation, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, eds., Gender Check: A Reader – Art and Theory in Eastern Europe (Cologne, 2010), 185–191. 2 Obituary on Sibylle Bergemann, in Der Tagesspiegel (November 3, 2010), https://www.tagesspiegel. de/kultur/nachruf-sibylle-bergemann-bilder-vom-rand-der-welt/1972818. html (accessed January 27, 2019).
Geta Brătescu The creative repertoire of the late Geta Brătescu (1926– 2018) is astonishing in its wide range, which comprises drawings and objects, collage and tapestry, photography and animation, as well as performative film. Often, Brătescu took up a particular subject in various media, for example when she, inspired by Pier Paolo Pasolini’s eponymous film (1969), began her visual exploration of the figure of Medea by creating a number of drawings. For Form–Inform. Pre-Medeic Drawing (Formă-informă desen pre-medeic, 1975) she portrayed Medea as “the image of an island, seen from above.”1 Later she used her delicate, eleven-part cycle Geta Brătescu, Les Mains (The Hands). For the Eye, the Hand of My Body Reconstitutes My Portrait, Documentation of the Mediterranean Sea (Documentatie 1977, digitized 8mm film, no sound, 4:55 min, camera Ion Grigorescu, Romania. Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest, and Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles despre Marea Mediterană, 1977–78), which features gestural cartographic imagery, associative image, and text montages, to trace the Mediterranean cultural area in which the myth-making life journey took place: “For Geta Brătescu, Medea is an inexhaustible symbol which she takes up again and again in the constant evocation of a certain formal pattern, as if, in following the rhythm of the series’ development, the artist wanted to run through over and again the fatalism of the tragic fate of this figure, a figure she sees as the embodiment of a certain type of femininity.”2 Although textile handwork for Brătescu was only one of many means of expression, the sewn series Hypostasis of Medea (Ipostazele Medeei, 1980), Vestiges (Vestigii, 1978), and The Path. The Great Vestige (Calea. Marele Vestigiu, 1983) number among her most striking works. Here, relief-like sculptural abstractions come together with feminine material that indeed has biographical overtones. The artist also approached the “mythologem” of Medea and its universal aura by working with clothing left behind by her mother, drawing on it using a sewing machine.3 These fabric collages made from scraps from a life conjure, in Magda Radu’s words, “not only memories of her mother but also the mythical, storied scenery of the Balkans and the Mediterranean and thus also the oriental, colorful hustle and bustle of the town of her birth.”4 Although Geta Brătescu, particularly in her drawings, occasionally made use of figurative elements, the abstract approach predominates in her oeuvre. In 2015, she explained, “It is reality that determines abstraction. I see things in an abstract manner.”5 Here, she pointed to an early experience in a foundry where she, drawing directly in front of a blast furnace, saw how railway tracks were produced. SA On view at the Wende is Les Mains (The Hands). For the Eye, the Hand of My Body Reconstitutes My Portrait. In this intimate close-up, Brătescu’s hands are featured in a short, distinctive filmic portrait of a creative practice that never paid heed to boundaries between genres.
1 Brigitte Kölle, ‘It is Reality that Dictates Abstraction. Brigitte Kölle in conversation with Geta Brătescu,’ in Hubertus Gaßner and Brigitte Kölle, eds., Geta Brătescu, exh. cat. Kunsthalle Hamburg 2016 (Hamburg, 2016), 23–41, here 35. 2 Magda Radu, ‘Abstract Narratives,’ in ibid., 61–79, here 69. 3 Kölle, ibid., 34. 4 Radu, ibid., 75. 5 Kölle, ibid., 26.
Anna Daučíková “During totalitarianism, in the absence of freedom of speech, we had the feeling that no one would ever know how we were living our everydayness, that the crimes of intellectual genocide would never become known …”1 This is how Anna Daučíková (b. 1950) described her feelings in the Moscow of the 1980s. Today – and since documenta 14 (2017) – she is known above all for her filmic work, created since 1994. In Moscow, however, where she moved in the late 1970s, following a love interest after her studies in Bratislava, and where she lived until 1991, she focused on conceptual painting and photography. Daučíková wrote, photographed, and painted while earning a living as a glass-blower, keeping a very low profile due to her homosexuality. Her works remained invisible. During this time she also created photographic self-portraits and series of black-and-white photographs that document aspects of day-to-day life in the late Soviet era. Here, her analytic view of society can already be discerned. Daučíková does not, however, evaluate society but instead offers her viewers – for their own reflection – banal moments in which social tensions and fissures subtly make themselves known. The series Family Album from 1988 shows typically Russian drinking glasses on a windowsill in an interior room, in constellations of two to four glasses – a commentary on conventional binary clichés around gender and family. An alternative roleplay takes place in private, separated by a windowpane from the exterior space, which is defined by a historical building in the background. “Particularly in the past decade in Russia, there has been an ever-growing effort to convince the population that non-normative sexualities are foreign to Russians, are a product of the ‘rotten West’ […]. It’s all a power strategy, a new national ideology, and it’s spreading in the name of patriotism […].”2 Today Daučíková, artist and queer activist, is considered the first Czechoslovakian artist to devote herself to feminism.3 HW
Anna Daučíková, Family album 1–4, 1988, 4 black and white photographs, Czechoslovakia. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest.
Anna Daučíková, Untitled 1–3, 1988, 1988, 2017, black and white photographs, Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic and Slovakia. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest. 1 Anna Daučíková in conversation with Michal Novotný at the occasion of her exhibition at the FUTURA Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague 2016, https://www.artsy.net/show/futura-centre-for-con-temporary-art-anna-daucikova (accessed January 15, 2019). 2 Ibid. 3 Although she attempts to separate art and activism, art is nevertheless always political for Daucikova: “I have a tendency to separate art and activism and keep some space between the two. There is such a thing as activist attitudes realized as art, but that’s because art can be everything, contemporary art takes up a much larger number of media and expression than the classic disciplines of imaging. They might even be political and social processes, various situations like ready-mades, anything. Art is political and always has been.” loc. cit.; for further information see Petra Hanáková on Anna Daučíková in Online Database of Contemporary Slovak Visual Arts, http://artbase.kunsthalle-bratislava.sk/en/umelec/1918 (accessed January 15, 2019).
Orshi Drozdik In times when art – even art that was not officially endorsed by the state – was created predominantly by men in Hungary, and women artists did not engage with decidedly gender-specific subjects, Orshi Drozdik (b. 1946) publicly and programmatically took up fundamental feminist questions in her conceptual artwork.1 In only five years of artistic practice in socialist Hungary – in 1978 Drozdik left Budapest, first for Amsterdam, then for the United States – she developed series whose critical questioning derived from her experience as a student at Budapest’s University of Fine Arts. In 1974, Drozdik had begun her study of art. It was a classical art education still anchored in the nineteenth century, meaning that a significant portion of the instruction came in the form of figure drawing lessons. The role of the passive, deindividualized, and generally female nude model – one who is most often exposed to a male gaze – prompted for Drozdik a lifelong engagement with the question of how the female body is perceived and normatively represented. That the issues involved in this question could be Orshi Drozdik, Individual Mythology Series no. 4, 1977, black and white photographs, Hungary. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest applied directly to entire societal structures – and this despite the socialist promise of equality – underscores the relevance and urgency of Drozdik’s artistic practice. By making herself the protagonist in a reevaluation of female identity, whereby a previously passive object becomes an active subject, she was attempting a redefinition through identity: “I thought I was the model. The model is I.”2 Over the course of several years, she created the photographic series Individual Mythology, in which she took on the role of the model herself, replacing static poses with dancelike movements and free expression. In this act of emancipation, Drozdik identified with the female pioneers of modern dance, reenacting their choreographies and movements and thus creating a rebellious, passionate, and very poetic counter-conception to the real-socialist status quo.
Orshi Drozdik, Individual Mythology at the Lenin Statue Walking Up, 1977, black and white photograph, Hungary. Courtesy of the artist
Orshi Drozdik, Individual Mythology at the Lenin Statue Walking Down, 1977, black and white photograph, Hungary. Courtesy of the artist
1 Emese Kürti, Screaming Hole: Poetry, Sound and Action as Intermedia Practice in the Work of Katalin Ladik (Budapest, 2017), 50. 2 Orshi Drozdik, ‘Being on the Border,’ lecture as part of the series ‘Rethinking Borders’ at the University of California, San Diego and the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, 1990–1991, manuscript of the artist, 16.
Erfurt Women Artists’ Group Erfurt, 1984: In private living spaces, a group of creative women met on a regular basis. Their aim was to create an emancipated and colorful world to counter the rigid, dull strictures of everyday life in East Germany. What began as a discussion group about sexual topics, esoteric knowledge, and nonconformist literature soon begot practical artistic exercises. From the beginning, the moving image promised a great spectrum of expression for both the physical and the psychological. Their first 8-mm film was created in 1986 and entitled Women’s Dreams (Frauenträume).1 From today’s perspective, these six scenes with their handmade props reflect a groping search for form. Above and beyond this, they attested to a liberating sense of defiance against the normative gender roles and, more broadly, against the visual reality of East Germany. In 1988, the artists found an explicit pictorial language of insurrection and they also reach a wider public. In their third film, Comic – Comical (Komik – Komisch),2 feminine self-assurance and a symbolic criticism of the regime entered a performative synthesis. Monika Andres, Name, City, Country (after the German educational game) – newspaper costume, 1988, newspaper, Monika Andres performed in a costume made of newspaper and did so not just plastic, foil, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist anywhere but in front of an advertising pillar in Erfurt’s public space. The performance immediately invoked precisely those vacuous ideological formulas that filled the bulk of the printed material produced every day. Edged with red plastic material, the gray paper served well as a fantastical suit. Satirizing norms, her physical movements were those of an automaton and suggested mechanical remote control. Verena Kyselka appeared in her antenna costume, which produced noises when she moved. This, too, was a critical poke: for decades, thick forests of TV antennae on the roofs of East German houses allowed access to information from the West. Soon, the Erfurt women artists also staged fashion-object shows. These built on the interest in handsewn articles of clothing as a means of signaling nonconformity – a compelling symptom found in everyday life during the later days of the German Democratic Republic. At the first public fashionobject show at the Erfurt church convention (Evangelischer Kirchentag), held in 1988, this interest was naturally central as well. Soon after, live performances and other performative stagings emerged from the films and catwalk parades. Often unfolding intuitively from sequences of audio, dance, and literary elements, these performances continued to make use of expressive and extravagant costumes. SA
Verena Kyselka, The News Anchor Antenna Costume, 1989, metal, metal tape, and antennas, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist
1 The camera work in these films was always done by Gabriele Kachold, who today uses her maiden name of Stötzer. At this time, Stötzer had already completed several experimental 8-mm films, which she directed herself, as well as sequential photographic work whereby generally feminine physicality or related stereotypes were central. Angelika Richter, Beatrice E. Stammer, and Bettina Knaup, eds., und jetzt. Künstlerinnen aus der DDR, exh. cat. Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin and Nuremberg, 2009), 104, as well as Susanne Altmann and Ulrike Lorenz, eds., Entdeckt! Rebellische Künstlerinnen in der DDR, exh. cat. Kunsthalle Mannheim (Mannheim, 2011), 24-25. 2 Participating in this film were Monika Andres, Verena Kyselka, Susanne Weiße, Gabriele Göbel, Ingrid Plöttner, Harriet Wollert, Monique Förster, Elisabeth Kaufhold, Tely Büchner, Ines Lesch, Ina Heyner, and Gabriele Stötzer (camera).
Else Gabriel “We didn’t want to ‘overturn’ anything at all. But even less so did we want to underpin anything. The German Democratic Republic was for us, for me, a real Dadaist social satire, a twisted philosophical comic book from which it was difficult to escape. Until it became possible to move to the West, we pitted our individual artistic uncontrollability against the prescribed ‘primacy of politics over art and culture.’ What mattered to us was the freedom of our own observation, which did not correspond to the official claims and constraints.”1 This is how, looking back, Else Gabriel (b. 1962) Else Gabriel/Michael Brendel, Lacheisen, 1989, digitized film of the put her experience in words. The artist gained recognition in the mid-1980s performance, sound, 10:30 min, East Germany. Courtesy of the artists in the East German art scene through joint actions with Micha Brendel, Via Lewandowsky, and Rainer Görß, who had all met at the Dresden Art Academy in Günther Hornig’s set and costume design class. As Autoperforationsartisten, they presented scenic, often provocative performances which blended Fluxus, body art, performance art, and dramatic reading,2 and put “themselves and the body, its vulnerability and existential constitution”3 at the center. They rebelled against the ideas about art and the teaching methods that predominated in East Germany. As the only female member, Else Gabriel found herself taking on a special role within the group – even if this was never directly talked about. In Gabriel’s conception of art, which she continues to uphold today, she never denies her “womanhood,” but she also never makes it the subject of her art to formulate a reproach or renouncement of felt or real “inequality.” For her, social change has always been a political issue, not an artistic one. Nevertheless, in performances she often took aim at clichéd female role models. She gave ironic presentations of the activities of the homemaker by, for example, excessively kneading dough, stuffing raw beef lung into her cleavage, letting herself be carried around on flan cases (Ode Terrazzo, 1987), drying a dead chicken with a hairdryer (The Top of the Meat Mountain [Die Spitze des Fleischbergs], 1986), and getting Micha Brendel to comb her long hair4 while she, reclining, recited her own writing Laughing Iron II (Lacheisen II, 1989). During this time in Dresden she also created conceptual photographs such as the ninepart photographic series ONE WAY – Black Sign – Cold Attacks (ONE WAY – Schwarzschild – Kalte Anschläge, 1986). Taking on allegorical meaning in this Else Gabriel, One Way, 1984, tin box, East Germany. work is the small sheet metal toy suitcase, given long exposure here, which is Courtesy of the artist presented with snowballs and bears the inscription “One way. Speed Limit.” Gabriel often used this suitcase as a prop or sent it traveling to the West. HW Gabriel spent a year in Los Angeles in 1992/1993. WM
Else Gabriel, One Way, 1984, tin box, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist
1 ‘”Es spielt eine Rolle wer woher kommt.” Die Berliner Performancekünstlerin Else Gabriel über die letzte Künstlergeneration der DDR und die falsche Historisierung der Kunst aus dem Osten,’ Else Gabriel in conversation with Elke Buhr, in monopol online (October 30, 2017), https://www.monopol-magazin. de/performancekuenstlerin-else-gabriel-DDR- museum-barberini (accessed February 19, 2019). 2 Durs Grünbein, ‘Protestantische Rituale: Zur Arbeit der Autoperforationsartisten,’ in Eckhart Gillen and Rainer Haarmann, eds., Kunst in der DDR (Cologne, 1990), 309–318, here 309f. 3 Cornelia Jentzsch, ‘Else Gabriel, AUTO-PERFORATIONS- ARTISTIN,’ in KONTEXT: Beiträge aus Politik, Gesellschaft, Kunst, No. 5 (Berlin, 1989). 4 Susanne Altmann, ‘Weibliche Subversion in der späten DDR – ein Sonderweg auf Augenhöhe,’ in Susanne Altmann and Ulrike Lorenz, eds., Entdeckt! Rebellische Künstlerinnen in der DDR, exh. cat. Kunsthalle Mannheim (Mannheim, 2011), 2–9, here 8.
Angela Hampel The publication of Christa Wolf’s novel Cassandra (Kassandra) in 1983 was later often described as a precipitating moment, especially by women artists in East Germany. It was all too easy to read the story – a tragedy about the prophetess who keeps failing in a patriarchal society and only finds an effective form of resistance against external control in death – as an analogy for the prevalent social and gender politics. Angela Hampel (b. 1956), who had completed her degree in painting and graphic art at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden a year earlier, also read Cassandra and experienced it as an expression of female revolt, and this left a mark on her work. As she later related when discussing the development of her interest in feminist issues: “Concerning myself with Cassandra led me to concern myself with the matriarchy.”1 Starting in the early 1970s, East German painting saw a revival of mythological characters as part of a critical self-questioning and a questioning of the present moment. But Angela Hampel, throughout her oeuvre and with unique intensity, explored rebellious symbolic figures more than almost any other Angela Hampel, Penthesilea, 1987–88, mixed technique on hardboard, artist. Appearing in her paintings, drawings, and prints as timeless, almost East Germany. Albertinum – Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden typifying examples of a self-determined and thus threatening female identity are Cassandra, Medea, the woman warrior Penthesilea – who became a figure of identification at the latest through Wolfgang Engel’s production of Kleist’s drama at the state theatre in Dresden in 1986 – and their Christian counterparts Salomé and Judith, as well as unnamed women and the artist herself. One of the ways this female identity is expressed is through visual dissociation and androgyny, achieved in a hybrid of archaic mythical creature and punk. While Hampel’s large-format painting Penthesilea is a colorful and dynamic monumental staging of the drama’s central motif – the deadly battle of the sexes as it unfolds Angela Hampel, Untitled, 1987, lithograph, East Germany. Kunstfonds, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden between two lovers – her expressive prints address elemental matters: human experience, isolation, intimacy, threat – captured in a candid line and a coloration that is reduced to the utmost. KL
Angela Hampel, Untitled, 1987, lithograph, East Germany. Kunstfonds, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Angela Hampel, On Penthesilea 1, 1986, lithograph, East Germany. Kunstfonds, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden 1 Susanne Altmann and Ulrike Lorenz, eds., Entdeckt! Rebellische Künstlerinnen in der DDR, exh. cat. Kunsthalle Mannheim (Mannheim, 2011), 14.
Christa Jeitner 1961 was a pivotal year for East Berlin artist Christa Jeitner (b. 1935). Due to the erection of the wall, she was unable to finish her fine arts degree at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in West Berlin, which she had begun in 1956. At the same time, this was the year she travelled to Poland for the first time, where she found new inspiration for textile art and abstraction, and where she found new friends and role models and had a chance to exhibit. One new relationship was with fellow artist Wojciech Sadley, with whom she, right from the beginning, felt an aesthetic, technical, and intellectual kinship: “I saw modified and layered nets [in Sadley’s studio, author’s note] next to supplies that could serve as stock for potential works – the end of a rope with knots woven into it, cut off for me, still hangs in my workshop today …”1 As early as 1964, she created net-like structures of knotted Christa Jeitner, Three Banners for the Special Concert in Honor of the Victims of Stalinist Persecution in the GDR at the Berlin Schauspielhaus on December 5, twine, some in macramé, as with the Auschwitz Hunger Cloth (Auschwitz1989, 1989, appliqué, textile, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist, photo: André Böhm Hungertuch, 1964–1965) or Station Exploited (Station Ausgeschlachtet, 1966). Christa Jeitner was encouraged through Polish influences, including Tadeusz Brzozowski and Magdalena Abakanowicz, particularly by Abakanowicz’s successes at the textile biennials in Lausanne starting in 1962, where her treatment of fibers liberated textile-based art from the connotations of arts and crafts. At the same time, working as a freelance textile restorer, Jeitner restored liturgical vestments from the Late Middle Ages, which helped her negotiate the modern dichotomy between applied and autonomous art. Here, she was inspired by traditional textile types such as the Sudarium of Saint Veronica, the so-called Lenten veils and burial shrouds, as well as by the religious symbols she found in traditional needlework. Resulting from this are cycles including the Auschwitz Reliquaries (Auschwitz-Reliquien, 1964) and Stations of the Cross (Kreuzwegsstationen, 1965–1968), in which Christa Jeitner not only combines different needlework techniques, including appliqués, but also uses a largely abstract formal language, which she invests with existential and pain-laden materiality. In the late 1960s, she began to address world politics and the depressing situation in East Germany in her art. Some of her works from that time are Prison Cell (Gefängniszelle, 1968), Massacre in Vietnam or: Torture in San Sebastian and Elsewhere (Massaker in Vietnam oder: Foltern in San Sebastian und anderswo, 1969), Flag for Camlistas (Fahne für die Camilistas, 1970), and the series Human Possibilities (Möglichkeiten des Menschen, 1972). While these fabric objects are conceived as wall hangings, other threadworks, including Treblinka (1969), Current Life (Strom Leben, 1976), and Three-Winged Column (Dreiflügelige Christa Jeitner, Flag for Camilistas, 1970, appliqué, fabric, East Germany. Courtesy Säule, 1978) branch out into three-dimensional space and occasionally the landscape. SA of the artist
Christa Jeitner: Three Banners for the Special Concert in Honor of the Victims of Stalinist Persecution in the GDR at the Berlin Schauspielhaus (the East Berlin City Theater) on December 5, 1989
Christa Jeitner, Structure of Stripes, Framed, 1977, pleated quilt, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist
During a special concert in honor of the victims of Stalinist persecution, these banners were hung from the flagpoles at the city theater at the Gendarmenmarkt, a historic and important square in Berlin with buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Jeitner had made the banners as part of a small exhibition she organized in the theater lobby. As there were many more people who wanted to see the concert than there were seats, the concert (Beethoven’s ninth symphony) was screened live at the square, where the people could see the banners as they listened. In 1990 they were exhibited in Paris as part of the exhibition “Art from the GDR - Artists for Humanity, Against Fascism and Stalinism.” CJ
1 Gegenüber Zbliżenia – Vier Jahrzehnte Cztery dziecięciolecia – Christa Jeitner Wojciech Sadley, Blumberg bei Berlin and Warsaw, exh. cat. Soziokulturelles Zentrum in der St. Marienkirche, Frankfurt (Oder)/Muzeum Lubuskie Imienia Jana Dekerta, Gorzów Wielkopolski (Frankfurt a.d. Oder, 2009), 6.
Magdalena Jetelová Magdalena Jetelová (b. 1946) began to pursue creative freedom at an early age – an artistic and personal quest. In 1968, returning from Milan to complete her fine arts degree in Prague, she found herself in the midst of the violent suppression of the Prague Spring. Newly fixed political borders led to a constriction of individual space. Challenged by this, Jetelová transformed the suburban area where she lived and worked in Tichá Šárka, which was a conservation area and mansion district, into a stage for artistic boundary-crossing. Around 1983, for example, she caused red signal smoke to rise from wooden structures that recalled temporary shelters.1 Designed as a visual distress signal for an emergency at sea, these unmissable Magdalena Jetelová, Marking by Red Smoke, Prague – Tichá Šárka, 1984, digitized film, sound 4:54 min, Czechoslovakia. Courtesy of the artist smoke signals were here the sign of distress of a very different nature: societal distress. All the more as Magdalena Jetelová lit some of these non-celebratory fireworks in a derelict neighboring building as well, making it appear as though house and home were up in flames. Not only was the constriction of everyday reality under socialism being attacked by the clandestine occupation of a derelict house, but the red smoke itself monopolized the airspace above the river valley of Tichá Šárka and led to a dissolution of boundaries – an aggressive transformation of accumulated resentment into a threatening spatial experience. Previously, she had questioned the regimentation of (public) space through raw, monumental furniture sculptures (chairs, tables, ladders), thus countering political intimidation with symbolic intimidation. Because after all, who besides fearsome giants would sit at such a table, on such a chair? Thus these sculptures were allegorical for the despotism of power and its dominance in public spaces – and therefore they were a visual signal of revolt directed at the authoritarian state.2 Jetelová continued to develop similar attacks on actually existing standards after she emigrated in 1985, making them her stylistic signature, for example in interventions such as Domestication of a Pyramid (1991–1993) in various museums in Europe and the laser drawings titled Iceland Project (1992). SA
1 Performance ‘Marking by Red Smoke,’ Šárka, Prague 1983–1984. Cf. Josef Hlaváček, Werner Meyer, Piedad Solan, Magdalena Jetelová (Prague, 2007), 32–35. 2 For more detail, Susanne Altmann, ‘Fire, Water, Earth, Air & Risk,’ in Milena Kalinovská, ed., Magdalena Jetelová. Dotek doby – Touch of Time, exh. cat. National Gallery Prague 2017 (Prague, 2017), 57–64.
Judit Kele In her conceptual series I Am a Work of Art, Judit Kele (b. 1944) turned not only her own body but her entire existence into an artistic medium. Kele, having finished her degree in textile design at the Budapest University of Fine Arts in 1976, went from subversive to radical as she interpreted, starting in 1979, the avant-garde idea of forging a direct link between art and life. In her early photographic work Textile without Textile, she replaced the lengths of fabric in a loom with her own naked body, which thus became the material subjected to design standards. In a live performance spanning several days at the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts in 1979, she expanded on the theme by using her own person as substitute for an artwork. Here Kele put herself – protected by a cord and the help of a museum attendant – in the place of a masterpiece by El Greco, which at the time was loaned to another museum. The artist deliberately plays with the dominant beauty ideal and the aestheticization of femininity – in both art history and in daily life – but also touches on questions regarding the suggestive aura of art and its exaltation as a fetish. When, in 1980, Kele was invited to the Paris Biennale, she carried through with the final act of the concept, which also enabled her to legally leave the Hungarian People’s Republic for good. To define her market value as an artwork, she planned an auction at which she herself would go to the highest bidder who – in order to add the work to his collection – would marry her. The advertisement, which ran prior to the event in a French daily paper, read: “Young and successful Eastern European female artist seeking man to marry. The marriage would allow her to move freely and to travel with her exhibitions in the West. In return, accommodation in her country of origin and local connections to the art world are offered.”1 Paradoxically, it was this final act of objectification – which yet again lays bare the mechanisms that define societal value – that allowed Kele to regain the freedom and control that is denied citizens in the socialist state. KL
Judit Kele, I am a Work of Art (performance), 1979–1984, digital prints, booklet, postcard, Hungary and France. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
1 Beata Hock, ‘Moving across Europe: Three Case Studies on Sex-Appeal,’ in Katarzyna Kosmala, ed., Sexing the Border: Gender, Art and New Media in Central and Eastern Europe (Cambridge, 2014), 33–54.
Běla Kolářová Běla Kolářová’s (1923–2010) path began in doubt. She doubted the meaning of photography, despite considering it her personal medium. Reflecting on this in 1968, she asked herself: “Was there really nothing left but to add the things we see to those already seen a hundred times over, to keep reshaping that which has long been discovered?”1 From this sense of distrust, she developed a form of experimental photography that was close to the principles of the 1920s movement New Vision, yet also related to a present very conscious of consumption: “Gradually I began to perceive a world which, in fact, was left out unnoticed by photographers. A world so negligible and everyday as if past the merit of being photographed; small things, indispensable for our life yet taken for granted so that we can hardly notice them in spite of their great number …”2 For some time, Kolářová worked without a camera, arranging bits of paper, thread, or shards on transparent film, or else pressing them, like stamps, into a coat of paraffin, exposing these compositions and calling them “artificial negatives,” similar to the cliché verre process. Later, she photographed regular still Běla Kolářová, Enlivening Palette I (Oživující paleta I), 1986, make-up drawing (cosmetic), cardboard, Czechoslovakia. lifes: household objects, eggshells, and crown caps. These systematic formations Běla Kolářová Estate, Prague of usually similar things announced the next phase in her practice: around 1964, she did away with the mediating camera altogether and turned to assemblage. As Marie Klimešová notes, Kolářová took recourse here to the modernist or minimalist model of the grid. According to Klimešová, she did this deliberately to limit the role of the artist’s “signature” – in favor of a conceptualism that was still unusual at the time.3 She was inspired by the constructivist-geometrical program of the group Křižovatka,4 of which she was a member along with her husband, Jiří Kolář, and fellow artists Zdeněk Sýkora and Karel Malich. At no point, however, was Běla Kolářová devoted to purely rational, completely self-sufficient structure; the pictorial elements taken from the immediate world around her precluded this: snaps, paper clips, razor blades. A tension-filled geometry of intimacy emerged in the late 1970s, when the artist took to “drawing” with cosmetics – with lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner, etc. – remaining true to the disciplined grid model while undermining it with a colorful symbolism of femininity. SA
Běla Kolářová, Day after day goes and everyone else 1 (Den za dnem jde a každý jiný 1), 1979, make-up drawing (cosmetic), cardboard, Czechoslovakia. Běla Kolářová Estate, Prague
Běla Kolářová, Large switch (Triangular) (Velké spínadlo [Trojúhelníkové]), 1971, fasteners, cardboard, Czechoslovakia. Běla Kolářová Estate, Prague
1 Běla Kolářová, ‘One of the Ways,’ in Běla Kolářová, exh. cat. Raven Row (London, 2013), 10–14. 2 Ibid., 11. 3 Alice Motard in conversation with Marie Klimešová, in ibid., 31–34. 4 Křižovatka (English: Crossroads), founded in 1963, disbanded in 1968. Cf. https://www.artlist.cz/en/groups /krizovatka- 2267/ (accessed January 8, 2019).
Alena Kučerová The creative collision between the order of geometric modernism and the accidental nature of human intervention in the work of Alena Kučerová (b. 1935) is evident in a graphic work completed in 1969. The entire surface of the print, edged in red, is dominated by series of reddish dots, perhaps statistical set diagrams or mathematical graphs. Yet a pinkish landscape made of irregular blotches, coming up at a slant from the left, abruptly interrupts the pattern. Unlike the frontally presented arrangement of dots, this gestural disruption enters in such a way that a central perspective is created: the trace left behind by an unforeseen activity.1 The print is called Tribute to Jan Palach (Pocta Jana Palachovi) and was printed from a metal stencil, with hand-painting added in. The title tells us more about the motif: The trace left by a reclining figure recalls a violent sacrifice. Kučerová is responding to the self-immolation of the Czech art student Jan Palach. In January 1969, he set himself on fire on Prague’s Wenceslas Square to protest the repression that followed the suppression of the Prague Spring. His act stirred up all those Czechs and Slovaks who were only beginning to see the dawn of the new Communist ice age. Alena Kučerová had profited from the Alena Kučerová, The Folded Wall, 1965, perforated metal matrix, Czechoslovakia. Courtesy of Galerie Pecka, Prague freedom of the liberal and hope-filled 1960s, rediscovering the traditional medium of printmaking in an experimental manner. Around 1965, she began to perforate cheap tin-can sheet metal using her grandfather’s shoemaker’s awl and then printed the motifs she had created in this way.2 It was a radical decision insofar as Kučerová began at the same time to exhibit the perforated tin plates as works in their own right. As a member of the artist group UB 12 3, which was centered around Jiří John, Václav Boštík, Stanislav Kolíbal, and her friend Adriena Šimotová, she felt on the one hand beholden to lyrical abstraction, but – like Šimotová and John – she never quite lost sight of the figure. Thus, many of her meticulously perforated tins exhibit figurative references and contours. Kučerová’s openness and love of experimentation is further seen in the fact that she later varnished over the substrates, which had served as printing blocks, with strident colors, boldly embracing the aesthetics of Pop Art. SA
Alena Kučerová, Decorative Sheet, 1968, perforated metal matrix, Czechoslovakia. Courtesy of Galerie Pecka, Prague
Alena Kučerová, Flowing Plane, 1968, lacquered metal matrix, Czechoslovakia. Private Collection (Gabriel Slanicay), Prague
1 Furthermore, the marked area resembles a map of Czechoslovakia. 2 Marie Klimešová and Alena Kučerová, 2005: https://www.artlist.cz/en/alena-kucerova-100887/ (accessed January 8, 2019), as well Marie Klimešová , “Experimenting All the Way Through Totalitarianism: Kolářová, Šimotová, Kučerová, Ságlová” in Susanne Altmann, Katarina Lozo, Hilke Wagner, eds., The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women behind the Iron Curtain exh. cat. Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Cologne, 2019), 63-65. 3 Kateřina Štroblová, Rathouská, UB 12, 2015: https://www.artlist.cz/en/groups/ub-12-100943/ (accessed January 9, 2019).
Zofia Kulik When she was a student, Zofia Kulik (b. 1947) already could not make peace with the idea that sculpture had to be static. Long before it became an art-historical term, she called for an “expanded concept of sculpture.” Influential in these early years was the theory of the “open form” as conceived by the artist and architect Oskar Hansen, who taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, where Zofia Kulik studied sculpture between 1965 and 1971. Kulik’s diploma work there, completed between 1968 and 1971, took Zofia Kulik, Home Enclosure, 1968/69, building blocks with photographs, Poland. Courtesy of form as the photographic series Instead of Sculpture. Composed Persons Projects, Berlin of approximately 500 photographs shown simultaneously as slide shows on three screens, it is early testimony to Kulik’s innovative approach to sculpture: dynamic, performative, process-oriented, and time-based.1 One projected textual passage succinctly summarizes Kulik’s thesis as “Film is sculpture and sculpture is film.”2 From multiple perspectives, the project’s 500 photographs document the artist’s various actions and objects as well as formative processes. There is, for example, her copy of Michelangelo’s Moses, endowed with textiles. They show the constantly transforming colorful shapes made of the simplest materials, which she presented with or without a model in her studio or elsewhere on campus. “I was documenting all the time, in every situation and on every occasion I was creating this kind of visual diary.”3 Many key aspects of Kulik’s later practice, especially the sculptural experiments and happenings that were created for film and photography, were already present in this early work. From 1971 to 1987, Kulik and Przemyslaw Kwiek would continue this practice as the artist duo Kwiekulik, referring to it as “camera-targeted activities.”
Zofia Kulik, Happy New Year! 1989, 1988, facsimile from original postcard, Poland. Courtesy of Persons Projects, Berlin
Instead of Sculpture further marks the starting point for an archive that Kulik maintained and expanded throughout the four subsequent decades; still today, it is an important source for her work. In this early time, Kulik also produced staged photographs of her artist colleague Zbigniew Libera, which still feature in her current large-format ornamental collages composed of black-and-white photographs. Kulik has worked on the collages since her separation from her artistic partner Kwiek. HW
Zofia Kulik, Through a Hole in a Red Shell (3 stages), 1968–1971, series: Instead of Sculpture, pigment prints, Poland. Courtesy of Persons Projects, Berlin 1 Anja Casser on the exhibition Zofia Kulik: Instead of Sculpture (1968–1971) at the Badischer Kunstverein 2017, http://badischer-kunstv-erein.de/index.php?Direction= Programm&Detail=700 (accessed January 15, 2019). 2 “What is film? Space in time. What is sculpture? Space in time. What’s the difference? Film is sculpture but in linear form (of the film frames). The form is defined not by the process of coding but by the process of restitution (playing back): the permanent flat screen always equidistant from the viewer. A sequence of pictures is shown on the screen. This sequence is nothing else than a sequence of profiles of a solid.” Cf. Łukasz Ronduda and Georg Schöllhammer, eds. in cooperation with Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, BWA Wrocław-Galleries of Contemporary Art, ERSTE Foundation and The KwieKulik Archive, Warsaw/Łomianki, Zofia Kulik und Przemyslaw Kwiek: KwieKulik (Zurich, 2013), 72. 3 Karol Sienkiewicz, Zofia Kulik, 2008, http://culture. pl/en/artist/zofia-kulik (accessed January 15, 2019).
Katalin Ladik In a euphoric account of Katalin Ladik’s (b. 1942) first performance, UFO Party (1970), Hungarian concept artist Lázló Lakner calls the artist “The Yoko Ono of the Balkans.”1 Looking back, Ladik, who belongs to the Hungarian minority in Yugoslavia, considers her many-sided minority experience – her own identity straddled between two cultures and being a woman in a patriarchal society – to have served as a catalyst in her artistic practice.2 In the 1960s, she began to write, becomes a member of theatre ensembles, and soon belongs to the intellectual circle of the neo-avant-garde Hungarian literary magazine Új Symposion. In the early 1970s, she experimented in her phonetic actions with the limits of language, breaking the language down into abstract sounds and translating it into movements. Ladik’s graphic works may be understood as visual counterparts to her acoustic interpretations. Using musical scores, texts, and sewing patterns, she translated linguistic, semantic, and phonetic components into collages that recall the aesthetics of the “classic” avant-garde. It is characteristic of the unique, politically motivated trajectory of art in Yugoslavia that a link is made to early-twentieth-century art forms, but also that a dialogue is sparked with contemporary developments in the West – in Ladik’s case, with Fluxus and neoavant-garde music in particular. In the 1970s, Ladik’s performances – in which she, often naked, acted like a shaman – made her a phenomenon in the regional art world. The public at large perceived her use of her own nudity, which was indeed erotically charged, as a provocation. But Ladik seems to make a subversive and ironic commentary Katalin Ladik, Blackshave Poem (Performance in Novi Sad), 1978, 12 black and white on the gender cliché that accompanies this evaluation and on photographs (digital prints), Yugoslavia/Hungary. Courtesy of the artist and acb Gallery, Budapest the dominance of the male gaze in her action Blackshave Poem (1978). In a kind of anti-striptease – the artist wore lace lingerie over long, black clothing – she ran the voyeuristic expectations aground, parodying common conventions of female beauty through the act of body shaving. KL The significance of the use of black fabric is unclear, given the piece’s reversal of black fabric and white skin. Is it meant to create negative space or a simple contrast to the white lingerie? Is it a problematic “mimicking [of] Black skin,” as suggested by Tate curator Juliet Bingham?3 WM
1 Lázló Lakner in a letter to Gábor Altorjay, June 16, 1970, in Emese Kürti, Screaming Hole: Poetry, Sound and Action as Intermedia Practice in the Work of Katalin Ladik (Budapest, 2017), 49. 2 In the 1960s, she began to write, became a member of theatre ensembles, and soon belonged to the intellectual circle of the neo-avant-garde Hungarian literary magazine Új Symposion. 3 Juliet Bingham, “Blackshave Poem,” Tate, March 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ladik-blackshave-poem-p82087.
Katalin Ladik, These Are (The Thing), 1978. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
Katalin Ladik, Exercises with Empty Strings, 1978. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
Katalin Ladik,The Women, 1978. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
Katalin Ladik, March of the Partisan Woman, 1978. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
Katalin Ladik, HERZIG, 1979. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
Katalin Ladik, Song in Red, 1974. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
Katalin Ladik, Above All, 1978. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
Katalin Ladik,Yu Hymn, 1973. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
Natalia LL Natalia LL (Lach-Lachowicz, b. 1937) is a conceptual and photo artist who was firmly rooted in the neo-avantgarde art scene of Wrocław in the late 1960s; among other things, she is known for founding the legendary gallery PERMAFO with Zbigniew Dłubak and Andrzej Lachowicz. Her Natalia LL, Points of Support, 1978, digitized 16mm film, sound, 1:07 min, Poland. Courtesy of lokal_30, Warsaw photo and video works deconstruct the iconic single-frame photograph and satirize the state-influenced pictorial program present everywhere in the advertising, television, and print media of the 1970s and ’80s. Her most well-known photo series, Consumer Art (Sztuka konsumpcyjna, 1972–1975) shows a variety of close-up serial portraits of young, attractive women eating, licking, and biting foods such as sausages, bananas, and melons. She shows pleasure, poses ranging from naivete to defiance, as well as decidedly sexual desire, yet not primarily in the context of the objectification and restriction of women,1 but rather as an expression of selfempowerment and life affirmation.2 Outside Poland, her art photography was interpreted early on as explicitly feminist. Following a severe illness in the late 1970s, she expanded her visual and semantic analysis by including transcendental and mythological topics. She created conceptual photographic documentation of her performances, for example Séance: Pyramid (Seans Piramida, 1979) and States of Concentration (Stany skupienia, 1980). Through the 2000s, Natalia LL continued to be provocative with works like Eroticism of Terror (Erotyzm trwogi, 2004–2006) and ironic with staged studio shots as pictorial exaggerations, for example in the analogue photo series Transfiguration of Odin (Transfiguracja Odyna, 2009). “If photography were limited to recording pictures, things would be relatively easy. The photograph, however, is a magical, if not devilish, means of contact with reality.”3 KK
Natalia LL, Portrait in White Gown, c. 1979, color photographs, Poland. Courtesy of lokal_30, Warsaw
Natalia LL, Consumer Art 1–3, 1975, original color print, silver gelatin prints, Poland. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
1 Izabela Kowalczyk, ‘Die doppeldeutige Schönheit,’ in Bojana Pejić and Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, eds., Gender Check: Rollenbilder in der Kunst Osteuropas, exh. cat. mumok Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien and Zachęta National Gallery of Art Warsaw, Vienna and Warsaw, 2009–2010 (Vienna 2009), 36–43. 2 ‘Feminists saw in my consumer art a perverse struggle with the cult of the phallus and with masculinity … For me it was rather the manifestation of a feeling of life and liveliness,’ in Natalia LL. Texty. Galeria Bialska BWA 2004, p. 242, as quoted in ‘The Sensual Conceptualism of Natalia LL,’ in Łukasz Ronduda, Polish Art of the 70’s (Warsaw, 2009), 93–104. 3 Definition by Natalia LL in her text Yhpargotohp of 1997, published on her website: https://nataliall. com/en/yhpargo-ohp-1997/ (accessed January 12, 2019).
Natalia LL, Seance: Pyramid. Wrocław/Stabłowice, 1979, black and white photographs, Poland. Courtesy of lokal_30, Warsaw
Natalia LL, States of Concentration, 1980, black and white photographs, Poland. Courtesy of lokal_30, Warsaw
Ana Lupaş The work Humid Installation (1970) by Ana Lupaş (b. 1940) – likely her best-known work today – already contains two elements that were central to her work as a whole: her enthusiasm for textiles as a medium of expression and her interest in the farming culture of her home country of Romania. More than 100 residents of the village of Mărgău in Transylvania participated in this quasi-performative ritual. For the work, Lupaş made use of a “participatory model … and the principle of ‘re-contextualization’: the domestic gesture of hanging out the laundry was invested with new functions and meanings … Thus, the ultimate goal of linen washing is achieved, for each individual, through an aesthetic act, enabling these subjects to identify themselves, through this symbol, as members of the community.”1 In a time and societal context in which the idea of the community, of the collective, was used for ideological reasons as a formula for social discipline, Lupaş took up this idea in particular, tying it back to its original, archaic and at the same time democratic function. The “repressions in her country that was hostile to independent art”2 did not take hold in the rural context. Using a personal, rather instinctive classification of the things of life as “hospitable” and “inhospitable,” Ana Lupaş arrived at a classification of textiles as “hospitable … symbols of enveloping, of softness … as an archetype of caregiving or welfare.”3 Comparable with the strategies of such contemporaries as Brătescu, Abakanowicz, Jeitner, and Ságlová, Lupaş began exploring the expressive power of textiles between object and body covering as early as the early 1960s. In 1969, the first Identity Shirts were created; here, pieces of cloth were, so to speak, overwritten like palimpsests with the sewing machine, with pens, with ink, and even with blood. Especially in the cycle Identity Shirts. Second Generation, the works’ resemblance – even when it comes to proportion – to often-worn and mended shirts results in a kind of universal inscription of human existence.” SA
Ana Lupaş, Identity Shirts 1–7, 1970–1980, various fabrics, Romania. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
1 As quoted in Ana Lupaş portfolio (at Galerie P420, Bologna), https://documen.site/download/artist-portfo-lio_pdf (accessed October 7, 2019). 2 Janina Ładnowska, ‘Drago Tršar, Jerzy Bereś, Władysław Hasior, Ana Lupas Sándor Altorjäi, Jozef Jankovič: Ikarus, der heilige Sebastian und der Prophet,’ in Ryzsard Stanislawski and Christoph Brockhaus, Europa, Europa. Das Jahrhundert der Avantgarde in Mittel- und Osteuropa, exh. cat. Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Stiftung Kunst und Kultur des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, ed., vol. 1: Bildende Kunst. Fotografie. Videokunst (Bonn, 1994), 329–335. 3 Ładnowska, ibid.
Dóra Maurer Following studies in painting and graphic art at the University of Fine Arts in Budapest, Dóra Maurer (b. 1937) began to develop surreal etchings in 1961, exploring the technical possibilities of the medium. Soon, however, her life-long interest in processes and systems revealed itself. In the 1970s, she performed numerous critical and conceptual actions such as What Can One Do with a Paving Stone (1971) and Street Action Budapest (1972), which she documented in photography and film. While traveling to the West, especially to Vienna, and participating in exhibitions there, Maurer established ties to Dóra Maurer, Timing, 1973–1980, digitized 16mm film, no sound, 10:09 min, Hungary. Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE 1 international exponents of conceptual art. In Hungary she belonged to a Foundation, Vienna network of progressive artists and art historians, which fostered alternative exhibition opportunities and nurtured artistic exchange, including international exchanges.2 In 1969/1970 she began to create time-based works that explored proportionalities: the effect that time and space and energy have on an event. These studies in Mauer’s oeuvre can be playful or analytical, depicting changes, shifts in perspectives, and visualizing structures.3 Her photographic series, films, and tableaus are free of narrative, subjective contexts; her images are reduced to elementary shapes and symbols. In the experimental film Timing (1973–1980), she folds a white cloth against a black background, making it as small as possible, in a total of seven steps. The subsequent variations and reiterations are based on this choreography that is as simple as it is aesthetically compelling. As the image itself is halved, then divided in four and finally in eight, and the steps in the folding process are played at the same time, the white surfaces of the cloth merge in some places, resulting in one image. Above all, however, temporal shifts and thereby also visual asymmetries become visible. The simple act of folding laundry, performed in the household, becomes an instrument of time measurement, a complex and fascinating phenomenon, which she renders even more abstract in four accompanying plates. Broken down into individual frames, the single images from the film mounted on the plates can now hardly be located in time and become ciphers in a mysterious system. KL Dóra Maurer, Reversible and Interchangeable Phases of Motion no. 6, 1972–1997, acrylic and gelatin silver print mounted on fiberboard, Hungary. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
Dóra Maurer, Reversible and Interchangeable Phases of Motion, Étude no. 1, 3, 6, 1972, white pencil, gelatin silver print mounted on black cardboard, Hungary. Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest 1 Hedvig Turai, ‘Dóra Maurer, Street Action, Budapest, 1971,’ in Silvia Eiblmayr, Georg Schöllhammer et al., eds., Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation (Cologne, 2017), 284–289. 2 Central European Art Database, Conversation with Dóra Maurer, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymjobUS2pU8 (accessed January 26, 2019). 3 ‘Since 1969–70, my work has been based on change, shifting, traces, temporality from various perspectives.’ Dóra Maurer in conversation with Matthew Rudman at the occasion of the exhibition 6 out of 5 at the Galerie White Cube Mason’s Yard, London, 2016, https://www.studioin-ternational.com/index.php/dora-maurer-interview-6-out-of-5-white-cube-london (accessed January 26, 2019).
Ewa Partum Ewa Partum (b. 1945) belongs to the first generation of conceptual neo-avant-garde artists in Poland. From the mid-1960s, she worked in different artistic formats such as action, installation, performance, and film, combining staged situations with photographic documentation, text, and verbal statements. Although the artist herself links her practice to different contemporary developments – from conceptual to feminist art – her practice has often been interpreted as solely a feminist one. In her first documented action Presence/Absence (Obecność/Nieobecność, 1965) as well as in her diploma work (1970), Partum distances herself Ewa Partum, Active Poetry. Poem by Ewa, 1971–1973, digitized 8mm film, no sound, 3:51 min, Poland. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw from painting, combining an action with canvases and photographic documentation. In her linguistic works such as Room Furnished with Imagination (Obszar zagospodarowany wyobraźnią, 1970) and Room with Poetic Licence (Obszar na licencji poetyckiej, 1971), she elaborates on the reification of language and critiques its referential model within the field of modern literature. Partum’s works from the series Active Poetry (poezja aktywna,1971) are based on a repetition of passages from modernist texts by such authors as James Joyce and Marcel Proust and strategically combine transgression and deconstruction. Here, the artist appropriated cardboard letters that were used in the propaganda slogans displayed on boards in public and work spaces in Poland. Similarly, in her conceptual installation The Legality of Space (Legalność przestrzeni, 1971), realized in the public square in Łódź, Partum commented directly on the political situation of the centralized spectacle of the communist state. In the series of feminist performances and actions realized between 1974 and 1982 – for example, Change. My Problem Is a Problem of a Woman (Zmiana. Mój problem jest problemem kobiety, 1979), Women, Marriage Is Against You (Kobiety, małżeństwo jest przeciwko wam, 1980/81), and the series of collages Self-Identification (Samoiden-tyfikacja, 1980) – Partum articulated the problematic social status of women and demonstrated the construction of the category of woman in a socio-historical process, a category which through rituals and institutions (marriage) became part of the current operating ideology. Partum thus directly targeted the imposed claim that women already enjoyed equal rights in Poland. KMG
Ewa Partum, Tautological Cinema, 1973, digitized 8mm film, sound, 2:51 min, Poland. Courtesy of the artist and the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw
Evelyn Richter The self-portrait that Evelyn Richter (b. 1930) created in a laboratory of the Technical University Dresden in 1952 is a provocative and experimental statement at the beginning of a career which would see her become one of the most important protagonists of East German photography. While the formalism debate raged, she staged herself as a confusing human- machine-creature, power-conscious and combining the creative influences of Dadaism and Futurism. Just before this, Evelyn Richter had completed her apprenticeship with the two well-known Dresden photographers Pan Walther and Franz Fiedler, and the following year, in 1953, she enrolled in Fotografik, or graphic photography, which had an applied focus at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig. There she soon ran into trouble on account of her “independent interests and pictorial ideas which are foreign to the demands of a realistic socialist art.”1 In 1955, she was Evelyn Richter, Crane Operator, before 1963, black and white photograph (modern print), East struck off the list of students. Evelyn Richter had had to earn her own living during her studies; Germany. Courtesy of the Evelyn Richter Archive now she established herself as a freelance photographer even of the East German Sparkassenstiftung at the Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig without a degree, getting contracts from such customers as the Leipzig Trade Fair and the magazine Sibylle. At the same time, she created an extensive body of photographic work in black and white, whose approach was that of social documentation and whose images nevertheless always made an independent artistic statement. In her work, Evelyn Richter was always interested in people: musicians, writers and artists, but also unknown individuals whom she encountered in daily life – in the street, on the train – or whom she captured in their encounter with art in a museum. Always critical of the system but empathetic toward her subject, Evelyn Richter photographed life in East Germany. The female laborers in the Neues Evelyn Richter, Self-Staging, University Dresden (TU), 1952, black and white photograph, East Germany. Deutschland newspaper printing works or in the Kunstfonds, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Courtesy of the Evelyn Richter Archive of the East worsted yarn-spinning factory in Berlin almost seem German Sparkassenstiftung at the Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig to disappear behind the huge machines they operate; almost organically the bodies blend into the arrangement of the equipment in the factory halls and working rooms. These images are devoid of heroism and thus very different from state propaganda. They tell of being shaped by socio-political circumstances while never failing to show the women’s dignity and self-assertion: without them, the machinery would Evelyn Richter, Nightshift, Dessau, 1966. Courtesy of the Evelyn Richter Archive of the East German not work. AM Sparkassenstiftung at the Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig
Evelyn Richter, Spinning Mill for Combed Yarn, Leipzig, 1970. Courtesy of the Evelyn Richter Archive of the East German Sparkassenstiftung at the Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig
Evelyn Richter, Weaving Factory. Ringenhain in Lusatia, around 1959. Courtesy of the Evelyn Richter Archive of the East German Sparkassenstiftung at the Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig
Evelyn Richter, Master and Apprentice Threading, undated. Courtesy of the Evelyn Richter Archive of the East German Sparkassenstiftung at the Museum of Fine Arts, Leipzig
1 Jeannette Stoschek, ‘Bilder im eigenen Auftrag: Eine Annäherung an das fotografische Werk von Evelyn Richter,’ in Evelyn Richter. Rückblick. Konzepte. Fragmente, exh. cat. Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig (Bielefeld, 2005), 14–27.
Zofia Rydet “To my mind, photography is not only a visual image but, above all, a language with which I would like to speak to ordinary people, and not to the great artists. The greatest value of photography is its role as information, its content and not the artistic statement, which is only transitory. The more my record grows, the more I believe that it will be timeless.”1 These words of Zofia Rydet (1911–1997) reveal not only the humility of this great twentieth-century photographer, but also her self-confidence: she knows that her decadespanning documentation of rural life, primarily in postwar Poland, is unique and will one day be seen on par with August Sander’s People of the Twentieth Century (Menschen des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts, begun in 1925) and Robert Frank’s The Americans (1955–1958). Rydet’s rejection of art’s primacy is nevertheless not reflected in her pictures. On the contrary, having first picked up the camera in 1951, at the age of forty, she not only went on to use her series, which featured a number of recurring motifs, to pursue conceptual strategies, she also mastered both pictorial composition and psychological depth. This is true of her best-known long-term project, Sociological Record (Zapis Zofia Rydet, The Passage of Time, 1963–1977, black and white photographs (modern prints), Poland. Courtesy of Sociologiczny, 1978–1997),2 for which she visited countless villages in Poland and the Zofia Rydet Foundation, Krakow documented different aspects of life there: women on the threshold of their houses, interior spaces, inhabitants in rooms, professions, objects, decorations … And it is true for works from the preceding time, such as Little Human Being (Mały Człowiek, 1952–1963) and The Passage of Time (Czas przemianija, 1963–1977). Despite Rydet’s rising prominence today, the latter series in particular has hardly been shown and discussed. The Passage of Time consists of portraits of old people that are characterized as much by intimacy as by a natural pathos. Rydet brings out the dignity and grace of old age with precision and an affection for her subjects. These portraits are impressive proof of the photographer’s ability to create a relationship of trust within the shortest time, a talent some of her contemporaries attested to as well. In fact, it seems as if this ability, social and communicative, is a prerequisite for the successful photography of people. SA
Zofia Rydet, Women on Doorsteps, from: Sociological Record, slideshow (60 digitized photographs), after 1978, Poland. Courtesy of the Zofia Rydet Foundation, Krakow
1 Krystyna Łyczywek, ‘Conversation with Zofia Rydet,’ in Zofia Rydet. Répertoire. 1978–1990, exh. cat. Jeu de Paume –Château de Tours 2016–2017 (Paris, 2016), 56–57. 2 Krzysztof Pijarski, ed., Object Lessons: Zofia Rydet’s Sociological Record, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (Warsaw, 2017).
Zorka Ságlová From 1961 to 1966, Zorka Ságlová (1942–2003) studied textile design at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague. There she became fascinated by the structural logic of weaving, transferring for example the pattern used in the construction of Atlas silk to early paintings consisting of variable circular shapes. Visualizing binding or weaving patterns, Ságlová takes us through complex arrangements of warp and weft threads. Here, her method corresponds to the art currents of the 1960s with their constructivist, geometrical, and serial tendencies – whereby she did not create concrete forms without a purpose but essentially abstracted from real life processes, namely the weaving of fabrics. In her later work as well, she avoided the metaphysical otherworldliness that is so often celebrated in similar works of the time. Around 1980, she introduced the simple silhouette of a rabbit into her work as a modular element, in part as an iconographic citation taken from medieval tapestry, in part as a reference to omnipresent pop culture. Created in the Czech national colors of red, blue, and white, hundreds if not thousands of these pictograms became allegories of society, identity, and the (im) mobility of a mass. This politicized reading of the work of Zorka Ságlová is indeed very much justified, as the artist was active in the alternative art scene of Czechoslovakia, not least of all through her brother Ivan Martin “Magor” Jirous (1944–2011), who was the manager of and spark behind the subversive Prague rock band The Plastic People of the Universe. After the suppression of the Prague Spring, she increasingly carried out collective actions, often in rural areas. For Laying out Nappies near Sudoměř (Kladení plín u Sudoměře, 1970), she used 700 white cloths to mark the site of the famous victorious battle of the Hussites against the emperor’s troops in 1420. In the middle of the oppressive period of socialist “normalization,” Ságlová created a metaphor of the former Bohemian independence movement, one that was readily interpretable by her contemporaries. SA
Zorka Ságlová, Laying Diapers at Sudoměř, 1970, black and white posthumous prints on forex, ed. 5, Czechoslovakia. Courtesy of Hunt Kastner Gallery, Prague, and Jan Sagl
Christine Schlegel Initially, Christine Schlegel (b. 1950) apprenticed as a window dresser and poster and sign writer and completed an evening program at Dresden’s Hochschule für Bildende Künste. There, in 1973, she began an academic course of studies in graphic art and painting. Before long, she turned away from the school’s rigid methods and stiff subject matter taught there, including the “regimented copying”1 of paintings. From the early 1980s on, Schlegel’s works testified to her interest in an experimental and processoriented approach that had no regard for boundaries between different media. She employed this ambiguity to find a pertinent form for her preferred subjects, which Schlegel, Folding Blind 1 and 2, 1984–85, painted corresponded with her inner world of emotions, questions of identity, and the abstract- Christine folding blinds, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist expressive gesture. In her understanding of painting as action, she found support in exchanges with like-minded artists such as Karla Woisnitza and Erika Stürmer-Alex. A nonconformist role model for Schlegel, Stürmer-Alex initiated communal actions that walked the line between painting and performance on her artist farmstead in the Brandenburg town of Lietzen. Being in touch with central figures of other independent movements was another decisive aspect in Christine Schlegel’s development. Dance, theatre, and music became especially important as her creativity branched out to explore all kinds of substrates and forms, as was the case in intuitively reworked postcards which comment in a subversive and witty manner on “real socialist” everyday life and, repeatedly, on prescribed female roles; in expressively painted folding window blinds; and, no less, in actions and Christine Schlegel, Maybe I Will Suddenly stagings. She not only documented some of her collaborative work Disappear, 1986, on poems of Inge Müller (1925–1966), artist book, screen print, with dance performer Fine Kwiatkowski using 8-mm film, but also East Germany. Courtesy of the artist developed it further with live projections. Androgynous, mysterious, and boisterous, the artistic persona of Kwiatkowski embodied the very atmosphere that is conveyed by the central figures in Schlegel’s painting: “This figure impressed me because I had previously made marionette paintings involving bald characters. […] Fine looked as if she had jumped out of my paintings.”2 Schlegel’s protagonists – whether Kwiatkowski or Penthesilea – are lone warriors testing the limits of gender, of their own Christine Schlegel, Duality – My Friend as an IM (informal secret service bodies, and of freedom, and their collaborator), 1981, oil on canvas, East Germany. Albertinum – Galerie Neue resistance takes both a combative Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and a melancholic form. SA Christine Schlegel, Various postcards, from 1973, postcards, painted and collaged, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist
Christine Schlegel, Penthesilea, 1984, oil on hardboard, East Germany. Albertinum – Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Christine Schlegel, The Hothouse, 1984, performance: Fine Kwiatkowski, digitized 8mm film, sound, 12:34 min, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist
Christine Schlegel, Fine, 1984, oil on canvas, East Germany. Albertinum – Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
1 Cornelia Schleime in a note from 1982, in Cornelia Schleime, In der Liebe und in der Kunst weiss ich genau, was ich nicht will (Bielefeld, 2010), 16. 2 In the course of departing from East Germany in 1984, Schleime had to leave the better part of her work behind. With the exception of pieces that remained in the private ownership of fellow artists and friends, all of this work is considered lost today.
Cornelia Schleime “I am banned from exhibiting so now I take my body, start something with it. It is now my door to the outside. You can’t tear the body off a wall, I thought, the way officials once tore down a drawing of mine, because the woman’s head was hanging down. They said, ‘No woman in socialism looks like that.’”1 Cornelia Schleime (b. 1953) gave this account of the repressive measures of East Germany’s cultural apparatus in 1982. During her studies at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden, the painter hit the glass ceiling of state cultural policy and was put under observation. She was active in the well-connected circles of counterculture, founding with fellow students the artist punk band (Fourth Root of) Twittering Machine ([Vierte Wurzel aus] Zwitschermaschine) and participating in the improv evenings led by the scene’s enfant terrible, A. R. Penck. His symbolic pictorial language may have left its mark in Schleime’s early paintings. The two paintings from the late 1970s on display in the exhibition are among the few surviving early works completed before Schleime’s emigration to West Berlin.2 In the composition Untitled (Ohne Titel, 1984), ornamental friezes frame figurines that seem equally archaic and are set down on the canvas in a loose, improvised style. The woman’s lowered head, which dissolves into the Cornelia Schleime, Self-Staging in Hüpstedt, 1981, various black and white photographs by Gabriele Stötzer, painted over by Schleime, pictorial space in the manner of watercolor, intensifies the impression of an East Germany. Courtesy of the artist intuitively captured, surreal dream world. The painterly process shows itself here to be internal, visceral. Because Schleime was banned from exhibiting once she completed her degree, her painting and drawing had to remain invisible, and so time-based media became her artistic survival strategy: self-staging, photography, 8-mm film, and text. In one case, working en plein air in the Thuringian village of Hüpstedt in 1981, she staged actions that were both existential and playful, turning her body – the last refuge of self-determination and the most immediate medium of communication – into a material. KL
Cornelia Schleime, Untitled, 1987, oil on canvas, East Germany. Albertinum – Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Cornelia Schleime, Body - Wall - Photo with Overpainting, Hüpstedt, 1981, leporello of images by Gabriele Stötzer, painted over by Schleime, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist
Cornelia Schleime, Untitled, 1978–1979, mixed media on untreated cotton, East Germany. Courtesy of Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Dresden
Cornelia Schleime, Untitled, 1979–1980, mixed media on untreated cotton, East Germany. Courtesy of Galerie Gebr. Lehmann, Dresden
1 Susanne Altmann and Ulrike Lorenz, eds., Entdeckt! Rebellische Künstlerinnen in der DDR, exh. cat. Kunsthalle Mannheim (Mannheim, 2011), 18. 2 Ibid.
Gundula Schulze Eldowy Gundula Schulze Eldowy (b. 1954), “the enfant terrible of East German photography,”1 taught herself to take pictures before studying photography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig. Her works from the 1970s and ’80s are considered some of the most important and moving visual testimonies to daily life in East Germany. In the general public Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Berlin, 1987, from the cycle: The Big and the and in the art world, Gundula Schulze Small Step (1984–1990), C-print, East Germany. Kunstfonds, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden Eldowy’s photographs produced a powerful response. Her unsparing and direct gaze upon the private sphere of others was polarizing. Walking through East Berlin with her camera in hand, she sought to “document in the unity of people’s physical expression and their social milieu what is unique about them […]”.2 Schulze Eldowy never ceased to be fascinated by personal encounters and stories. She photographed children, adults, and marginalized members of the community. Her sympathies lay with these misfits as they did not align with the ideals of socialist utopia: they were elderly people, disillusioned workers, people with tattoos, gender nonconforming people, and sick people. Rather than doing what was smiled upon in East Germany and staging an ideal, Schulze Eldowy created images that strove for truthfulness and authenticity. Following an unadorned social documentary approach, she understood her cycles to be a “corrective”3 to the state’s brightened image of society which hardly reflected the real living conditions of its citizens. Among the works she created in East Germany are such well-known series as Berlin on a Dog’s Night (Berlin in einer Hundenacht, 1977–1990) and The Big and the Little Step (Der große und der kleine Schritt, 1984–1990), but also the cycle Tamerlan, created between 1979 and 1987. Here, she hauntingly follows the aging process and physical deterioration of Elsbeth Kördel, whom she met by chance during one of her forays in Berlin. Kördel, called Tamerlan because of her fighting spirit, is a silent anti-heroine full of dignity and melancholy. In these works, the black-and-white photographic spectrum softens the painful divide between hope and reality. But whenever Schulze Eldowy turns to color photography, the visual and social contrasts of the late GDR, the limitations and inflictions, come into even sharper focus.4 SC
Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Tamerlan (Series), 1979–1987, black and white photographs, East Germany. The Wende Museum 1 Ulrich Dormröse, ‘Realität, Engagement, Kritik,’ in Geschlossene Gesellschaft: Künstlerische Fotografie in der DDR 1949–1989, exh. cat. Berlinische Galerie 2012–2013 (Bielefeld and Berlin, 2012), 20–27, here 25. 2 Alicja Piekarska, Die Fotografin Gundula Schulze Eldowy: Die Wirklichkeit der späten DDR-Jahre in Schwarz-Weiß (Baden-Baden, 2018), 14. 3 Gundula Schulze Eldowy in conversation with Josie McLellan, in Josie McLellan, Love in the Time of Communism. Intimacy and Sexuality in the GDR (Cambridge, 2011), 198. 4 Christoph Tannert, in Gundula Schulze: Farbfotografie, exh. cat. Galerie Weisser Elefant, Berlin (Berlin, 1988), 5–6.
Gabriele Stötzer Gabriele Stötzer (b. 1953, née Kachold) adopted feminist objectives in her artistic practice very early on. She names her political imprisonment, especially at the notorious prison for women in Hoheneck in 1977, as a shaping influence for her approach, which was unusual even in the later days of the German Democratic Republic. At first, she composed expressive literary texts to give voice to the “depth, passion, and indestructibility”1 she and her fellow inmates experienced. In the late 1970s, Stötzer began to take photographs of her social environment in Erfurt, and sometime later she started using the medium of Super 8 film. Her works are autonomous and singular not only in that they responded visually to the historical suppression of female creativity, but also because they simultaneously addressed the societal circumstances of so-called real socialism. Many of her works take up the body – generally the female body – as a last available realm of individual activity. In films such as Trisal (1984) and in staged photographic works such as Women Together (Frauen miteinander, 1983), she represents a feminine awareness of life and female body language as an affirmation of existence. Despite Gabriele Stötzer, Self-Staging by Cornelia Schleime on the Occasion of an Outdoor Session in Hüpstedt, 1981, photographs, East the constricting and patriarchal situation in East Germany, Stötzer did not dwell Germany. Courtesy of the artist on formulas of lamentation and victim roles, defining sexual identity instead as something celebratory, even playful and subversive. She was convinced that such unbridled body work, which often recalled matriarchal rituals, was only possible in the open climate of women amongst themselves: “It was an intensive process because you need some inner strength to be able to bear shots like those.”2 But this did not narrow her artistic outlook: In Book of Quirk (Mackenbuch, 1985), she portrayed a young person transgressing gender norms, in various poses, in different degrees of nakedness.” in various poses, in different degrees of nakedness and wearing costumes. Even back then her thoughtful perspective on the construction of roles and questions of gender is evident. With her companions she founded the Erfurt Women Artists’ Group3 in 1984, Gabriele Stötzer, Conversations, 1984, portfolio with black and white photos, partly painted over, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist a group of women artists in the city of Erfurt who sought creative freedom for themselves through provocative performances. The films documenting these actions, which were often radical, experimental fashion-object shows, attest to the determined vitality of this artistic practice as it responded to regimented daily life in East Germany. SA
Gabriele Stötzer, Humor-Comical, 1988, digitized 8mm film, sound, 28:52 min, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist Gabriele Stötzer, Postcards, from 1981, collage, painted over, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist 1 Gabriele Stötzer in conversation with the author, 2009. 2 Ibid. 3 For years, the group performed informally without a specific name or rather operated under a new label for each performance or film action. It was not until 1989–1990, shortly before they disbanded, that the name ‘Exterra XX’ was chosen. Recently the designation ‘Künstlerinnengruppe Erfurt’ has been adopted.
Erika Stürmer-Alex Unlike her younger colleagues, Erika Stürmer-Alex (b. 1938) took up art in a time in which it did not seem like an outright impossibility in East Germany to build on developments in modernist art. But soon, as early as the early 1950s, a cultural-political line was being drawn to set the East off from modernism – defamed as Western decadence – and a doctrine of socialist realism was favored. In the subsequent years, Stürmer-Alex still had the chance to visit exhibitions in West Berlin and, after the wall was built, she traveled in Hungary and Poland. She found inspiration in the various parallel developments of the avant-gardes and followed their evolution on the western side of the Iron Curtain. She further deepened her knowledge Erika Stürmer-Alex, Fear 1980, latex paint on burlap, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist of modernism after she began to study at the Kunsthochschule BerlinWeißensee in 1958, and what resulted was a pictorial language that played with the various artistic approaches of the twentieth century: her initial geometric reduction in the 1970s is followed by a probing of the expressive potential of color and form in abstraction, from which she returned to figuration. In her work, color remains an important means of expression and an aesthetic response to her life circumstances.1 The painting Fear (Angst, 1980) presents a menacing atmosphere, revealing just how closely interwoven art and life are in Stürmer-Alex’s work. In a distillation of her painterly means during the 1980s, she arrives at a “signal language” full of archaic symbols and gestures, as can be seen in the woodcut series Hercules (Herakles, 1988), which tells a story in expressive structures and symbols. While Stürmer-Alex, going against outside recommendations, studied painting rather than sculpture on account of her interest in color, she never remained bound to a single medium. Working at times on public commissions, as she was a member of the VBK (Verband Bildender Künstler), the fine artists’ association of the GDR, she created paintings and graphic works as well as sculptures and architectural art. Having acquired a farmstead in Lietzen in 1982, she and other women artists were able to engage in more independent and more multifaceted experimentation, leaving behind the limitations of the state, of urban space, and of individual media – and this continues today. KL
Erika Stürmer-Alex, Postcards, 1969 and 1982, paper collages, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist
1 Erika Stürmer-Alex in conversation with Gabriele Muschter and Uwe Warnke, in Gabriele Muschter and Bernd Rosner, eds., Erika Stürmer-Alex: Malerei Grafik Plastik Objekte Installationen. Werke 1962–2018 (Berlin, 2018).
Hanne Wandtke In 1979, dancer and choreographer Hanne Wandtke (b. 1939) began her work as an educator for New Artistic Dance at the Palucca School of Dance in Dresden, where she had studied. This was the subject prioritized by Greta Palucca, the director and founder of the school, who had studied under Mary Wigman. On the one hand, the self-expression of the body and emotions beyond classical positions was important here, and on the other, the field opened up new possibilities in an East Germany marked by claustrophobic creative circumstances. By using improvisation as a stylistic device it was possible to address controversial subject matter. This was one of the reasons the Stasi put the dancer and dance educator as well as the artist group to which she belonged under close observation.1 The artist group was composed of several scenography students from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden (HfBK), who in 1985 began staging Hanne Wandtke, The protagonists of performances under the name Autoperforationsartisten. the performance The Top of the Meat Mountain: left to right: Via Lewandowsky, In the literature about this collective, there is hardly Else Gabriel, Peter Dittmer, Rainer Görß, Michael Brendel (Autoperforationsartisten) any mention of Hanne Wandtke, although she actively and Hanne Wandtke (sitting), 1986, black and white photograph (photographer: participated in performances as early as 1986. This can Andreas Rost), East Germany. Courtesy be attributed to the fact that she wanted to keep a low of the artist profile due to her prominent position at the Palucca school. In the performance The Top of the Meat Mountain (Spitze des Fleischbergs), put on as part of the art academy’s carnival celebrations in February of 1986, she appeared in her opaque garbage costume and was not even recognized by the school’s director.2 But her stage experience, body control, and creative imagination certainly contributed meaningfully to the group’s activities. This is especially Hanne Wandtke, Garbage costume from the evident in her role in the play Homunculus Monologues (Homunkulusmonologe), performance The Top of the Meat Mountain, 1986, mixed media, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist performed at the occasion of Rainer Görß’s graduation from the HfBK in the 3 summer of 1989. In this play, Michael Brendel, her partner on stage and in life, essentially mirrors Wandtke’s dance movements. In 1988, she began performing solo, accompanied most often by the pianist Waldemar Wirsing. While in their production Irritations (Irritationen), Wandtke and Wirsing showcased an intensive relationship, in Praise of Praise (Lob des Lobes), which they performed early in the spring of 1989, they were responding provocatively to the narrow-minded art criticism practiced in East Germany.4 SA
Hanne Wandtke, Action: Irritations, 1989, black and white photographs, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist
Hanne Wandtke, Performance: Lob des Lobes, 1989, black and white photographs, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist 1 Alexander von Plato, ‘Revolution in einem halben Land,’ in Alexander von Plato, Tomáš Vilímek, Piotr Filipkowski, and Joanna Wawrzyniak, eds., Opposition als Lebensform: Dissidenz in der DDR, der ČSSR und in Polen (Münster, 2013), 23–278. 2 Hanne Wandtke in conversation with the author, September 2018. 3 Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden, ed., Ordnung durch Störung: Auto-Perforations- Artistik (Nuremberg, 2006), 162 and 49. 4 The performance took place on invitation by Angela Hampel and Steffen Fischer as part of their installation ‘Offene Zweierbeziehung’ (Open Relationship) at the 12th Art Exhibition of the District of Dresden, 1989, Ausstellungshalle am Fučikplatz, Dresden.
Karla Woisnitza (INGARTAN) When Karla Woisnitza (INGARTAN) (b. 1952) took part in a drawing group in her hometown of Rüdersdorf near Berlin, it proved to be a step in her future direction. This was long before she began to study set and costume design at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden in 1973, eventually studying with Günter Hornig, who gave his students room to breathe and freedom for creative experimentation within the conservative climate of the academy. But the drawing group in Rüdersdorf, for its part, was led by the artist Erika Stürmer-Alex, whose nonconformist conception of art as well as her outlook on life was highly influential for many younger women artists. Stürmer-Alex,1 in 1983, began to Karla Woisnitza, Woman, 1987, oil on hold experimental summer classes on her hardboard, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist remote artist farmstead in Lietzen, and it became a gathering place for subversive, creatively minded people. Time spent there encouraged Karla Woisnitza to develop an “intuitive sense for rituals of femininity”2 and an artistic activation of the body in the interest of female self-assurance and empowerment. Informally, with other women artists,3 she performed body actions, for example the Face Painting Action (Gesichts-malaktion, 1978–1979). She also called into question traditional Karla Woisnitza, KYNKOS representations of femininity as well as the basic difference between – an Étude, 1974, drawings on paper, East Germany. internal and external perception. Her portfolio Drawings for the Myth Courtesy of the artist of Medea (Zeichnungen zum Medea-Mythos, 1985)4 likewise pursued a renewed inquiry into the matter. Key motifs of the mythological story are rendered here as fragmentary sketches juxtaposed with color-illustrated figurative scenes. In Woisnitza’s characteristically primitive and emblematic style, they show the many different roles of Medea: the daughter, the sister, the lover, the mother, the avenger. The accompanying writing approaches the figure from a psychological perspective, undermining the image of an unpredictable and irrational woman. Apparently, patriarchal conditions and the experience of exclusion have always been determining factors in women’s fates. “Medea’s atrocities are her personal solutions in the predicament she is in; betrayal, envy, and revenge are motivated by personal conflict. Jason acts in the interest of society. His hands are clean because Medea serves him as a welcome handmaid. It was something she had learnt well at home.”5 KL
Karla Woisnitza, Drawings on the Myth of Medea, 1985, facsimiles of drawings on paper, East Germany. Courtesy of the artist and Stadtmuseum, Berlin 1 See entry for Stürmer-Alex 2 Susanne Altmann and Ulrike Lorenz, eds., Entdeckt! Rebellische Künstlerinnen in der DDR, exh. cat. Kunsthalle Mannheim (Mannheim, 2011), 26. 3 Marie-Luise Bauer-Schmidt, Sabine Gumnitz, Monika Hanske, Christine Schlegel, Cornelia Schleime, and Angela Schumann. 4 Woisnitza created the portfolio of 23 sheets in 1985 for a planned but not realized publication of Heiner Müller’s texts on the Medea myth by Reclam Verlag. 5 Text sheet of the series ‘Zeichnungen zum Medea-Mythos,’1985.
Doris Ziegler Doris Ziegler’s (b. 1949) almost veristic self-portraits and portraits of women are extraordinarily precise, unprettified atmospheric pictures that exist beyond the positivist socialist image of the human being as endorsed by the German Democratic Republic. With a painterly seriousness, the artist captured her immediate surroundings on canvas – scenes from daily life, streets lined with buildings, individuals – but, above all, she created from out of her own questions of identity. Ziegler, who began her studies at the Leipzig Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in 1969 under Werner Tübke and Wolfgang Mattheuer – two greats of East German realist painting – broke with the doctrine of state-promoted art without putting herself at a radical formal distance from it, unlike many of her peer female artists in Dresden. Rather, she reactivated the critical tradition of New Objectivity and reduced her pictorial worlds to an essential, heightened reality: figures and surreal spaces that communicate inner states. Again and again, Ziegler portrayed herself – as woman, mother, daughter, and artist – and plumbed the depths of her own identity to explore the disparity between complex female self-experience and established notions of roles. In the 1970s, East Germany saw a surge of critical artworks, especially of paintings that put forward an anti-heroic and individualized image of the human being.1 Doris Ziegler, “Rosa Luxemburg” Work Team, Portrait Eva, 1975,
Accompanying personal oil on hardboard, East Germany. Courtesy of Lindenau-Museum, Altenburg disappointment and an uneasiness with the deadlocked, incapacitating system was the inclination to take a hard look at the reality of real socialism, and this was the context in which unfold Ziegler’s interpretations of a motif that was extremely popular and representational ideologically: the worker portrait. The women portrayed in her cycle Work Team Rosa Luxemburg (Brigade Rosa Luxemburg, 1975) appear to counteract the “decals” of socialist imagery in that they hold up psychological states and individual fates against the going typology of an energetic optimism. The faces of the women workers do not so much testify to their dynamic contribution to the common good but rather say something about their inner constitution. They look out at us: worked to the bone, exhausted, doubly burdened with their job and their family. KL
Doris Ziegler, Self in a Mirror, 1986, oil on hardboard, East Germany. Private Collection
1 Angeli Sachs, ‘From Outstanding Workers to Sirens: Representations of Women in German Democratic Republic Painting (1995),’ in Bojana Pejić, Erste Foundation, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, eds., Gender Check: A Reader – Art and Theory in Eastern Europe (Cologne, 2010), 79–96.
Short texts AM Agnes Matthias ARC Anna Rose Canzano HW Hilke Wagner
KK Katrin Kruppa KL Katarina Lozo KMG Karolina Majewska-GĂźde
SA Susanne Altmann SC Sarah Corminboeuf WM Wende Museum
Los Angeles Contemporary Artists To show topical connections between the Cold War past in Eastern Europe and the here and now, the Wende Museum invited three artists working in L.A. today to contribute to the exhibition. Mixed-media artist and painter Lezley Saar addresses issues of identity, race, and gender in intricate works referencing the history of art. Sichong Xie plays with cultural stereotypes, humorously commenting on American versus Chinese cultural traditions and gender roles. In her works created for this exhibition, Chelle Barbour combines portraits of black women with objects from the museumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s collection into surrealist collages.
Chelle Barbour, I Spy, 2019, work on paper, Los Angeles. Courtesy of the artist
Lezley Saar, The Silent Woman, 2015, acrylic on fabric on panel, Los Angeles. Courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery, Culver City, and Lezley Saar
Chelle Barbour, The Cipher, 2019, work on paper, Los Angeles. Courtesy of the artist
Lezley Saar, A Night at the Uranium, 2015, acrylic on fabric on panel, Los Angeles. Courtesy of Walter Maciel Gallery, Culver City, and Lezley Saar
Chelle Barbour, Five On The Black Hand Side, 2019, work on paper, Los Angeles. Courtesy of the artist
Sichong Xie, You Can’t Take That Away From Me IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, 2016-2018, photographs, giclée prints, Los Angeles / China. Courtesy of the artist Sichong Xie, You Can’t Take That Away From Me, 2016, Handmade Communist Male outfit embedded with a fake Louis Vuitton logo pattern fabric, Los Angeles / China. Courtesy of the artist
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