CORPOREALITY REPAIR CONCILIATION
Investigating Ways Into a Better Coexistence
Rosalyn D’Mello with contributions by Anna Hagen, Marlene Hausegger, Maridl Oberhofer, Monika Oberhofer, Rita Oberhofer, Suguna Sridhar
Suzana Milevska in collaboration with Tal Adler, Seraphine Appel, Rosalyn D‘Mello, Sasha Huber, Inge Manka, Merete Røstad, Simona Schneider, Alfred Ullrich, a. o.
Sam Richardson in collaboration with Virgil Taylor, Gina Disobey, Anita, Jakob, Valeria Rosanelli, Suzana Milevska, Carolyn Lazard, Diya Vij, Gabby Miller
Olga Ştefan with a contribution by Aurel Mărculescu
An exhibition of the Büchsenhausen Fellowship Program for Art and Theory 2021–22.
curated by Andrei Siclodi
The participants of the Fellowship Program 2021–22 present works and projects developed in Büchsenhausen that, with the involvement of other artists and experts, combine feminist-queer perspectives and proceedings with questions of coping with the past and thereby investigate ways into a better coexistence.
Thursday 12. 05. 2022, 19.00
13. 05. – 16. 07. 2022
Wed – Fri 12.00 – 17.00; Sat 11.00 – 15.00
closed on holidays
The exhibition Corporeality, Repair, Conciliation: Investigating Ways Into a Better Coexistence addresses the urgent need to reconceptualize our social as well as socio-political relations with one another. Driven by apparently unstoppable capitalism, the erosion of these relations has long been concealed under the guise of virtual prosperity. However, in the light of the current geopolitical shifts set in motion by war and the resulting threatening and already occurring disruptions, the last doubts about the malign character of this erosion must be questioned. Therefore, wouldn’t it be now the very moment to reflect on practices, procedures, and ideas that aim at or already demonstrate sustainable forms of coexistence? This exhibition offers a perspective on the possibilities available. It brings together works and research materials the participants in the Fellowship Program for Art and Theory 2021-22, Rosalyn D’Mello, Suzana Milevska, Sam Richardson and Olga Ştefan, have produced or collected in Büchsenhausen over the past few months and which, on a common meta-level, deal in different ways with feminist-queer perspectives and proceedings, corporeality and identity, necessary remembrance and the accompanying rewriting of art history, as well as with questions of conflict and coming to terms with the past.
When entering the exhibition, visitors encounter numerous visual materials that combine research photography with handwritten wall texts, newspaper articles, artistic intervention and seemingly “non-artistic” objects. Author and critic Rosalyn D’Mello reflects in this work titled In the Name of the Mother on her own condition as a woman, mother, intellectual and rural dweller, staging a display that intertwines personal observations and discoveries in the domestic, social and professional spheres. During her fellowship at Büchsenhausen, D’Mello focused her attention on the “art” of so-called housewives, mystics and “spinsters” with the intention of connecting to the work of contemporary feminist artists who have long been considered outsiders in art history and whose achievements continue to be recognized – if at all in their lifetimes – relatively late in their careers. It aims to understand how these female artists, who found themselves in an outsider position, came upon ways of belonging-to-themselves as they located their intellectual and creative capacities in the “privacy” of the home. D’Mello’s study intends to make both legacy systems visible, contextualize them and thus re-locate the lost female subjectivity.
The work has taken the form of a “metabolic essay” (Rosalyn D’Mello’s own term) and was ultimately and significantly shaped by the author’s situation as an expectant mother – a circumstance reflected and documented in the presentation display. This and the contributions by Rosalyn D’Mello herself, the “recognized” artists Anna Hagen and Marlene Hausegger, the author Suguna Sridhar as well as the “outsiders” Maridl Oberhofer, Monika Oberhofer and Rita Oberhofer intertwine in many ways and form a visually exciting and profound panopticon of feminist-emancipatory possibilities of articulation beyond known activist paths of action.
The photo-video work complex After Kümmernis by Sam Richardson also roams less-known paths. The artist deals with the figure of Saint Kümmernis, a “bearded crucified woman” who has been historically regarded as a patron saint for the relief from tribulations – in particular by women who wish to be liberated from abusive husbands or domestic situations, as well as by survivors of sexual assault, rape and incest. However, she is also worshipped by those bound or restricted, i.e. prisoners and other people in captivity. Depending on the region and era, she is known by other names, such as St. Kümmernis / Kummernuss (Germany, Austria), St. Uncumber (England) and St. Liberata (Italy). Sam Richardson’s personal connection to Wilgefortis is rooted in the hormonal Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) they have been diagnosed with. Referred to as the “thief of womanhood” in the medical community, the “masculinization” of female bodies is one of the main symptoms of PCOS. The male-patterned hair growth is a typical symptom that also affects the artist.
During the fellowship in Büchsenhausen, Richardson used the figure of Kümmernis as an identifying link to queer and minority communities of the present day that are still socially marginalized by the state or Catholic-religious hegemony in Tyrol and its larger area, but, in return, have developed strong queerness and resilience strategies. Being an artist who is also an activist in the USA and who makes their aesthetic practice available to a social-community goal, Richardson, sensitively, has portrayed several members from these communities in Innsbruck/Tyrol and blended these photographs with her own and Kümmernis‘ portraits in the installation.
The referrence to an outcast symbolic figure of the Catholic Church, of canonized representations of suffering and their staged iterations as a queer or female subject, points to the historical dimension of excluding and disciplinary mechanisms established over centuries for women and non-heteronormed people. These mechanisms have been legally removed in many Western countries, but it will take decades, if not centuries, to socially implement them as one must, unfortunately, observe in the imminent reintroduction of the ban on abortion in the USA by the highest court. In the exhibition, the new video work captures precisely these feelings, evoked and permanently anchored by such repressive disciplinary and exclusionary dynamics. In a way, the video also provides an adequate soundtrack for viewing the entire installation.
Physical and intellectual exclusion and oppression in its most severe form as a measure of extermination were experienced by the central protagonists in the research of curator and author Olga Ştefan. For many years, Ştefan has dedicated herself to quasi-archaeological remembrance work, in the course of which she reconstructs, compiles and publicly presents the fates and work complexes of Romanian Jewish artists who were murdered in concentration camps during the Second World War or who survived the Second World War but were re-marginalized and persecuted under communist rule. Her current project, The Concentration Camp Exhibition, which Ştefan worked on during her fellowship at Büchsenhausen, is an investigative project in the form of an essay film aiming to document Ştefan’s attempt to reconstruct an art exhibition that took place shortly after Romania was liberated from the fascist Antonescu regime. In 1945, this exhibition showed life and death in Romanian concentration camps and depicted various forms of anti-fascist resistance by Jewish prisoners. It was the first and only exhibition of this kind held in Romania during the communist regime. After that, all the artists of this exhibition fell into oblivion.
In the exhibition at the Neue Galerie, Ştefan shows a first short version of this film, which cannot be realized to the planned extent at the moment due to the war in Ukraine: The site of the former concentration camp in question, Vapniarka, has been on Ukrainian territory since 1945. The short film presents works by Gabriel Cohen and Aurel Mărculescu, among others. Their works, produced in the concentration camp, introduce them in their respective historical significance and provides insights into the artists’ everyday life during imprisonment. Along with the video, woodcuts made in captivity by Aurel Mărculescu are shown for the first time since 1945. These pictures are only preserved as hand-made prints in the catalogue of the 1945 concentration camp exhibition (total edition: approx. 200). The four selected works are reproductions of the catalogue pages and reflect the artist’s living conditions in Vapniarka.
The exhibition tour concludes with the fourth room of the exhibition – where the documentation of Suzana Milevska’s research project, which the theorist and curator developed and advanced during the Fellowship in Büchsenhausen, can be viewed and studied. APOLOGOSCAPES: Ethical and Aesthetical Protocols of Apology addresses the possibilities and limitations of various apology and renaming protocols, incorporating performative-artistic processes and strategies that seek social change and reconciliation. The following urgent questions are posed in relation to the omnipresent failing attempts at apologizing: What socio-political systems and legal structures cause attempts of apologies to fail? And how might one overcome the state of futile apology attempts? The research display Apologoscapes – Not yet an exhibition summarizes the steps taken so far as well as the materials collected, presents them publicly and puts them forward for discussion. Using video excerpts from the four most important events that took place during the Fellowship with invited artist/researcher Merete Røstad, researcher Seraphine Appel and artist/researcher Sasha Huber, or were conducted by Suzana Milevska herself, the central thematic focus of the project becomes obvious: the multiple significance of memory work, (post)colonial forms of apology and their frequent failure, as well as artistic renegotiation strategies in relation to archives, memory and place. In a participatory workshop held in early April, intersections of interpersonal apology practices with public and collective apologies issued by institutions, governments or other political bodies were finally discussed with participants from the fields of art, sociology and political science. A questionnaire recorded the results of the workshop. A To-Do List by Milevska on a print designed by Merete Røstad gives insight into the development of the project during the fellowship months. A folder with numerous research materials completes the presentation display. Visitors are invited to browse through the diverse materials themselves.
Text: Andrei Siclodi
Büchsenhausen Fellows 2021-22:
Rosalyn D’Mello (she/her) grew up as a “Bombay Goan” in Mumbai. She graduated in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and earned her Master’s degree from the Centre of English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. After a brief stint as a theatre critic in Mumbai, in 2010, she adopted Delhi as her base for almost ten years before moving to her current location in Tramin, an alpine town in the autonomous province of South Tyrol in Italy. Over her decade-long career as a freelancer, she has performed various callings as a feminist writer, art critic, columnist, essayist, editor, researcher, consultant, and proofreader across industries.
She is currently a TBA21 Ocean Fellowship 2021 Mentor. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, A Handbook for my Lover. She is also the recipient of the India Foundation for the Arts arts research grant (2019-2020), which is supporting her ongoing research for her forthcoming book for Oxford University Press, India, based on her visits to Indian artists’ studios. Since January 2016, she has been writing a weekly memoir-based, feminist column for mid-day. She writes fortnightly art columns for STIR while her criticism frequently appears in the Indian weekly magazine Open. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary anthologies, such as Dress (HarperCollins India, 2018), Walking towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell their Stories (HarperCollins India, 2016; Hardie Grant Australia, 2016) and collections of art criticism, including Critical Writing Ensembles: Dhaka Art Summit 2016 (Office for Contemporary Art, Norway; Mousse Publishing, 2016) and Navigating the Planetary (Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2020). She was previously the editor of BLOUINARTINFO India (2012-2014) and was nominated for the Forbes’ Best Emerging Art Writer Award in 2014. She was also shortlisted for the Prudential Eye Art Award for Best Writing on Asian Contemporary Art in 2014. She was an evaluator for The Andy Warhol Foundation Art Writers Grant in 2020.
Suzana Milevska is a curator and theorist of art and visual culture, based in Skopje, North Macedonia. Her theoretical research projects employ postcolonial and feminist institutional critique of representational regimes of hegemonic power in arts and visual culture, and the deconstruction and decolonization of contentious cultural heritages in art institutions, collections, and public spaces. Her curatorial projects focus on collaborative and participatory art practices, feminist projects by women artists looking at visual microhistories in historic and family photographic archives, and community-based projects in solidarity with marginalized and disenfranchised communities.
In 2019, Milevska curated the exhibition Contentious Objects/Ashamed Subjects at the Polytechnic University Milan as Principal Investigator of TRACES – Transmitting of Contentious Cultural Heritages with the Arts – From Intervention to Co-production (EU Programme Horizon 2020, 2016-2019). From 2013 to 2015, she was Endowed Professor of Central and South Eastern European Art Histories, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Milevska was a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar (Library of Congress, Washington D.C.). She holds a PhD in Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths College London. In 2012, she won the ALICE Award for Political Curating, and the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory. Her research and curatorial project The Renaming Machine (2008-2011, Ljubljana, Skopje, Pristina, Zagreb, Vienna) addressed the politics and aesthetics of renaming, rewriting histories, and the overwriting of memory in art and public space in South and Eastern Europe. In 2010, Milevska initiated the project Call the Witness that focused on contemporary Roma artists and consisted of a participatory online Roma Media Archive, the exhibition Call the Witness, (BAK Utrecht), and the Roma Pavilion at 54 Venice Biennial (Palazzo Zorzi, Venice). In 2011, she also curated the project Roma Protocol, Wiener Festwochen, Austrian Parliament, Vienna.
Milevska’s publications include Gender Difference in the Balkans (VDM Verlag, 2010) and the readers The Renaming Machine: The Book (P.A.R.A.SI.T.E. Institute, 2010), On Productive Shame, Reconciliation, and Agency (SternbergPress, 2016), and Inside Out – Critical Discourses concerning Institutions (co-edited with Alenka Gregorič, 2016).
Sam Richardson is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in photography, as well as video, sound and writing. They are based in Los Angeles, CA. As an image-maker working in a documentary-informed practice, Richardson strives to unlearn, break open and find new ways of creating images that interrogate collaboration and photographic relationships in the context of the body, trauma and care. She utilizes her experience as a Crisis Counselor to survivors in New York and Los Angeles, abolitionism and personal history to enter their work with a practice of care and investigation into personal and shared experience.
They graduated from the Photography Department at the UCLA MFA program in 2020 where she TA-ed and supported professors in several art studio courses in the Art Department, as well as TA-ed in the Arts Education Department. They are dedicated to creating the most expansive and inclusive form of arts education from theory to practice. During winter 2020-21 she was Artist and Instructor in Residence at Urbano Project in Boston. Currently, they are the Director of Communications and a Teaching Artist at Creative Acts. In Fall 2021 they teach a Foundations course at California Institute for the Arts and a photography course with Las Fotos Project.
Olga Ştefan is a curator, arts writer, documentary filmmaker and researcher, born in Bucharest, raised in Chicago, and currently residing in Zurich. Her work mostly deals with the politics of memory, migration and identity. Ştefan has curated more than thirty international exhibitions in museums, art centers, and galleries and has contributed to magazines such as Art in America, FlashArt, Art Review, Sculpture Magazine and many others. She is the founder of The Future of Memory, the transnational platform for Holocaust remembrance in Romania and Moldova through art and media, where her documentary films can be viewed. Her chapter on the Vapniarka concentration camp appeared in the volume Memories of Terror, 2020, CEEOL Press, Frankfurt.