OVER MY (DEAD) BODY
Over my (dead) body creates a dialogue between the works of three female artists, all focusing on the subject of the female body. A common use of natural materials – blood on alabaster (Muller), milk on wood (Ev) and egg yolk, tempera and gold on wood (Shachko), deepens the coherence between their oeuvres.
The title of the exhibition refers to a work by British-Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum, titled Over my dead body (1988 – 2005). A photo print shows Hatoum’s face in profile, as she stares down to a toy soldier perched on her nose. She stares at the soldier as one looks at an annoying fly. In this image, Hatoum unites – via the interposition of her own body – the symbolically charged title with a cynical sense of humor. Her body becomes a metaphor for all of those who suffer because of war or violence in general.
The exhibition presents a unique selection of feminist icons of Oxana Shachko, in which she confronts the female body in a radical manner in opposition to strict religious dogmas. The icons of this young artist, who has, are at the same time testimonies of her own physical and psychological suffering, both as an artists and an activist.
Shachko finds aesthetical inspiration in art history while at the same time starting a dialogue with contemporary visual culture. The individuals populating her work almost remind of cartoon characters, as they are painted in a two-dimensional manner on small format. As is custom in traditional religious painting, the individuals are accompanied with metaphorical attributes that help the viewer to immediately comprehend the denounced depravations hidden in each work.
A series of anthropomorphic drawings by Sofie Muller represents different aspects of to the human body. Juxtaposed bodies or limps in a vivid blood red are drawn as dreamy almost lifeless entities while containing a strong vitality at the same time, almost as the famous sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci. Muller paints on alabaster with her own blood, an action (painting on stone with blood) that reminds of pagan offering traditions. The fragile vital body transposed on alabaster by the use of carnal colors finds an echo in the icons of Skachko.
Untitled (le silence du dôme) of the French-Russian artist Katya Ev, shows a wooden bedframe filled with milk. The smooth surface of milk, locked in the wooden frame, functions as a mirror to the viewer. This direct confrontation contains several symbolic connotations: the bed as place of intimacy, vulnerability, sickness and death opposed to milk as a reference to mother’s milk, the very first nutrition of all human life. In this context the bed functions as a metaphor for the beginning as well as the end.