press release

This exhibition evolved from the enthusiasm for four individual artistic positions and from the wish to set up a room for each of them. Thus, in the gallery of KUNSTAGENTEN, each of the invited artists was provided with one room to present their recent works which are all shown for the first time in Berlin. All artists have in common that they focus on the human (female) figure and that they play an ambiguous game with their figures – and not less with the viewer.

In the first room Hamra Abbas' Woman in Black (2008) greets the visitor. Standing on a round pedestal, larger-than-life und shimmering, on the first sight, the woman seems to be completely exaggerated, just too much: her enormous bust, her dismissive glance, and not least the erected middle finger which nearly seems to be meant as to affront the viewer. Who is this woman in black? No doubt, it is a new vision of the female superhero par excellence that brings to mind Lara Croft and her colleagues. She combines femininity, power, propensity to violence and assuredness of victory, all in superhuman dimensions. Besides the reference to super heroism, the artist who was born in Kuwait and currently lives in Islamabad and Boston, puts emphasis on the reference to Hindu temple figures. As surprising this connection between a comic superhero and a Hindu temple figure might seem on the first glance, as perspicuous it becomes on the second glance: the goddess and the superhero likewise embody beauty, power and strength. Thus, the sculpture obtains another level of meaning, which refers to the correlation between tradition and presence as well as between Eastern and Western culture.

In the next room, a hero of an altogether other kind makes her appearance: it is naive Dorothy from the legendary movie „The Wizard of Oz“ (1939), the first technicolor movie in history. Cut from the story of the movie, in Eli Cortiñas Hidalgo's work There is no Place like home, Dorothy is shown on two stacked TV monitors. On the upper, one sees her maiden face with closed eyes, on the lower the famous ruby red slippers with whom one can fulfil dreams by clinking the heels together. In Cortiñas' piece Dorothy repeats the final sentence of the movie like a mantra: „There is no place like home.“ until this allegedly consoling and alleviating conclusion gets a darker connotation and Dorothy's ecstatic face might as well be read as expression of a rather disturbing obsession.

Somewhat disturbing – and at the same time intriguing – are the images from the FashionFashion-magazines by New York artist K8 Hardy which are on display in the third room. Their DIY-style do not come to one's expectations of the conventional fashion aesthetics at all. Nor does the way the artist presents herself and performs in the most unusual positions in front of the camera. In so doing, Hardy makes very clear how much we are used to certain poses and looks, which are ultimately shaped by a heterosexual, namely “men-look-at-women” perception.

Freya Hattenberger also puts herself in the centre of her works of which two are presented in the basement. The video Sirene (2006) shows the artist as she – in a clearly as obscene connoted way, but obviously without any passion and rather matter-of-factly – embraces a microphone with her mouth. The resulting sound disrupts the potential flippancy of the scene severely, it is at the same unpleasant and beguiling – just as it is appropriate for a Sirene.

Kurator: Barbara J. Scheuermann

Künstler: Hamra Abbas, K8 Hardy, Freya Hattenberger, Eli Cortinas