What happens if we re-view the world through a coat of human milk?
Why human milk? The anthropocene speaks through human milk and infiltrates the basis/materiality of all living (and human) interactions.
Why milk as invisible ink?
CURRENT RESEARCH: WHY NOT A MONUMENT AGAINST PATRIARCHY? Alphanova & Galerie Futura, 2019 What could a Monument Against Patriarchy be? Why might it be impossible? For whom is it (or not)? Where is it? Where has it been? Why can you not see my personal Monument against Patriarchy? What does it look like here and there? What kind of impact might it have? Can a public Monument Against Patriarchy (MAP) touch emotionally and thus mobilize against the declining political representation of women?
2018 PLEASING MACHINES Artistic Design Research
2017 artistic research scholar, Senate for Culture and Europe, Berlin BORDERBODYLANDSCAPING How can a place of historic significance be examined using drawing as analytical tool?
Borderbodylandscaping is a process of actual and imaginary excavation of what has inscribed itself through time – and has been inscribed by historians - into the ground/material/body to the former border territory around Charité, using information from the online Archive of the Institute for History of Medicine and Ethics of Medicine, GedenkOrt.Charité.
How can these borderlandscapebodies, these processes of time, material and inscription be viewed in relation to each other or compared artistically?
Working with the Choreographer Mikel Aristegui within bodylandscapingtime (ngbk) where I invited him to do a workshop in my class Tasten, Riechen, Hören at the Institute for Art in Context at UDK, I began abstracting my process of covering images and gestures of power in human milk drawings. Apart from having the pleasure of observing a choreographer working with artists who were not dancers, I found him working intensely with one student, who was interested in a photo from 1945 of a line of women removing debris from a bombed out building, Mikel seemed to continuously connect to and abstracting from a personal body-memory archive of the student in relation to the photo, finally showing the line travelled by the stone to possibly be a movement to be replicated, rather than mimicking the movement of the people in the photo.
The question of potentialities of abstraction from the original very direct current affairs political content of transcribing images of power along border formations in human border milk created some new tensions for my work of re-drawing and covering gestures in “naturally” invisible ink.
2016-2018 artistic research scholar at Gedenk.Ort Charité
As a member of the interdisciplinary group of artists, physicians, medical ethicists and medical historians of Gedenk.Ort Charité I worked on the development of a selection process for an artistic project at the Charité Campus Mitte, close to Hauptbahnhof in Berlin. One of the goals of the project was to design a memorial, art and memorial pathway on the grounds of the Great Hospital and associated research and education institutions to reflect on the National Socialist past of the medical facility and, in particular, its role in this context. In the open call, the patriarchal gaze on the female body in gynecology and psychiatry was directly addressed. On my initiative, students of my seminar at the Berlin University of the Arts / Institute of Art in Context re-interpreted the preliminary exploration of the site as an artistic task carried out with artistic means. They developed temporary interventions for the location. Based on this strategic setting, we re-framed the campus of the Charité in Berlin-Mitte as a body that we would explore through anamnesis (as part of my seminar "Touching, smelling, hearing", 2016/17). I was able to secure a space a the nGbK for presenting the results of this artistic research work. The temporary interventions that were the result of this artistic research work referred to the content made available by historians of the GeDenkOrt.Charité and transported it to an artistically interested public through the exhibition. The memorial was envisioned as a commemorative walk with various stations in public space outside of a complex system of educational, research and medical buildings, The Charité Campus Mitte is geographically located at a central point near the former border between East Berlin and West Berlin, next to the new main train station, the Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum for the present and the strategically positioned House of the Future, the Futurium, where programmers and artists develop future projections. The project is thus embedded in a closely-knit network of representative urban development, determined by the current political policy and its projections from the past and into the future, so that every action, even the decision for the memorial, carries symbolic meaning. The role assigned to artistic autonomy with this system is very important.
I both painted socially engaged artistic responses within this complex context as well as providing the space for the students in my seminars, conceptualized as research group, to conduct artistic research into this terrain in the form of "anamnesis". Of particular importance was the idea that foregrounding temporary artistic interventions is an excellent means to pre-explore a location dedicated to art and commemoration.
Skyjacking Across Borders with Toy Guns - 5 meter panoramic painting Fever (An/Amnesia) - Film HKW Performative Talk on Painting, with quotations Experimental Animation based on Milky Paintings
The result of the two year project was published by Gedenk.Ort Charité within the series: Hefte zur Geschichte der Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
2010 to 2014 DISSERTATION published 2017 with Mensch und Buch Verlag
What happens in the wold is re-viewed through a coat of human breastmilk? I began drawing images in human milk in 2011.
"The milky drawing functions like a an x-ray image. It exposes what is not immediately obvious through properties of the brushstrokes and the characteristics of the drawing lines. It is analytical. Is it also synthetic in the sense that something new can be put together after the analysis has taken apart and split into tiny visual and narrative episodes what lays before her?"(Helge Oder, 2017)
DISSERTATION: As a painter, I examined painting from as many angles as I could find since graduating from Pratt Institute in New York in 2002. This lead me to femininity and materiality. I experimented with the use of breast milk as a drawing material in the course of my artistic research work entitled, »Später baut sie Atomschiffe – Muttermilch als Zeichenmaterial« [Later She’ll Be Building Atomic Ships – Breast Milk as Drawing Material] since 2010. I used milk as »invisible ink« to paint and sketch technical drawings of nuclear power plants found in the magazines for young adults »Hobby« (West Germany) and »Jugend und Technik« (East Germany) from the 1960s and 70s. Through the drawings, I explored how the strong polarisation of nature and culture manifested itself, in particular with regard to the use of atomic energy and the representation of military vehicles, such as submarines and aircraft carriers, while observing the transformation these masculinities and femininities underwent on opposite sides of the border between Eastern and Western Germany.
In my PhD work, I searched for potential shifts in the naturalisation processes based on the binary categories of nature/feminine and culture/masculine, and those who continuously re-establish these categories. A recurring pattern emerged in the reactions of the contemporary audience. First, they react to the highly unusual material with ambivalent emotionality – revulsion and fascination. In a second step they often dismiss the work by reminding themselves that human milk is »actually completely natural (feminine)« (or other, variably: socially engaged art rather than painting, emancipatory rather than true art, political and therefore not of high quality) and thereby relegate it to the sphere of non-art in a process similar to abjection described by Julia Kristeva and more extensively examined by Winfried Menninghaus. How is this exclusionary process built?
I looked very closely at how this highly gendered material is successively excluded and rendered subaltern by repeatedly experimenting with human milk as drawing material and presenting it for public viewing.
I was inspired to engage in this type of research into materiality by Rosemarie Trockel's question about wool and knitting. She asked herself why it was that women themselves often found their work with knitting embarassing.
Was it the material itself or how it was being used and by whom? How can these aspects be unravelled?
The white on white drawings are made visible by burning them. I buy human milk online from the border region San Diego/Tijuana, mechanizing the visibility producing aspect of heating the milk by attaching a rotary iron and ultimately, externalizing the image selection and production method as far as possible.