press release

Hannah Villiger
Amaze Me
January 4–July 2, 2023

Hannah Villiger (1951–97) was an extraordinary voice in late 20th-century contemporary art, but her work came to an abrupt end with her untimely death. She became known above all for her photographic works based on the body.

Muzeum Susch is hosting the largest presentation of the artist's oeuvre in fifteen years. Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me offers new perspectives on the work of this important Swiss artist. Villiger’s large-format works based on Polaroid photographs make a lasting contribution to the genre of the self-image within art history. At the same time, her explorations of the body can be discussed against the background of numerous contemporary themes. Her oeuvre spans from the drawings she made in the 1970s to the black-and-white photographs and works with the Polaroid camera that she created from the 1980s onwards. These fragmentary close-ups of her own body, greatly enlarged via an internegative and mounted on aluminium, are presented individually or assembled into space-related ensembles. The results are unlimited possibilities of at times spectacular views of the body. The exhibition expands the view of Villiger to include contemporary themes and issues. The focus is on the representation of the female body, one’s own perspective, as well as that of others, on the human physique, its classification in the media, questions of surface, space and body, and the objectification of the body. In Villiger’s work, the skin—where humans enter a dialogue with their environment—is a setting for highly topical questions of gender and ethnicity, as well as vulnerability and healing. The body was the artist’s primary working material. We encounter it abstracted or deconstructed; it can be human, but also of plant or artificial origin. Although Villiger’s early death brought her oeuvre to an abrupt end, her works point unwaveringly to the present.

The one-day symposium devoted to Hannah Villiger, organised as part of the exhibition, and accompanying the launch of the monograph book is an attempt to put Villiger’s work into a new light.

Yasmin Afschar, co-curator of Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me
Emily Butler, curator and writer; curator of the Conversations programme for Art Basel
Quinn Latimer, writer and editor, lecturer at the Institute Art Gender Nature HGK FHNW in Basel
Gioia Dal Molin, head curator of Istituto Svizzero in Rome
Aïcha Revellat, member of eikones Graduate School (Basel) where she prepares a dissertation on Hannah Villiger
Madeleine Schuppli, co-curator of Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me
Agnieszka Sosnowska, curator of a discursive programme at Muzeum Susch,
assistant professor at the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Science
Wolfgang Ullrich, cultural scientist, author specialising in sociology of images and digital image cultures