Solo show. Artist works with the topos of the female body, with the media images from the advertising, beauty, and fashion industries, and the imagery passed down through art history. In her exhibition she explores the theme of the portrait.
Maria Hahnenkamp works with the topos of the female body, with the media images from the advertising, beauty, and fashion industries, and the imagery passed down through art history.
In her exhibition at the Galerie Lisi Hämmerle, Hahnenkamp explores the theme of the portrait. This aspect is an exciting next step in her conceptual photographic work since her aim in exploring the media image is to question the apparent identity conveyed by a photographic representation. In this sense the portraits of her two protagonists – seven-year-old Laura and Burgtheater actress Regina Fritsch – do not fit into the ordinary scheme of portrait photography. Instead, they show scenarios composed by the artist in which she focuses on the gaze, on our way of perceiving an image, which is often subconscious, and in which the theme she is ultimately addressing is that of “being in the picture.”
In one photograph Laura sits on the floor. From beneath an ornamental glass table that reveals her only in part and under which she seems trapped as if in a cage, we see one eye looking up in a mix of curiosity and fear. A similarly ambivalent interplay between rebellion and conformity, between revealing and hiding, is expressed in another series in which she lies on the table with her head dangling downward, gradually slipping more and more over the edge, letting the viewer below see first hair, then face, then arms.
Fritsch, with whom Hahnenkamp had already worked in 2008, when the Burgtheater commissioned a portrait series of her, contributed important accessories to her self-staging: a long-haired wig and blue roses.
For this mise-en-scène Hahnenkamp used a sheet of transparent plastic that she hung across the whole set like a curtain. She also wrapped the nude actress in transparent plastic and had her pose in the narrow photographic space in front of the curtain. In another series we see the half-nude model partly in front and partly in back of the curtain. In addition to the plastic “shield” that reflects light, producing blind spots in the picture, she superimposes and expands the “portraits” with more reflection layers. The artist transfers these “blind spots” onto a parallel photo, inscribing fragmentary texts from psychoanalytical contexts into these empty spaces; at the same time she stitches a decorative pattern onto the image surface – like a web that has always been there – trapping her protagonists in the image.
Hahnenkamp’s work deals with the precariousness and vulnerability of human existence. In her “portraits” she addresses the complexity of a (re)presentation as well as its fragmentary aspect that always makes reference to the “other” that lies somewhere beyond. She shows that identities only emerge in their relation to the other, in their relation to the imaginary of the field of vision and the symbolism of language. And she shows that there is no alleged complete whole to represent the people portrayed in the photos. Maria Hahnenkamp’s art lies in the way she is able to make this experienceable on a conceptual and aesthetic level as well as in the perfection of the technical execution.
Maria Hahnenkamp – born in Eisenstadt in 1959, lives and works in Vienna. Since the late eighties Hahnenkamp has worked with photography and focused her attention on themes that revolve around the female image.
She received the Austrian Appreciation Award for Work in the Field of Artistic Photography from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture in 2007 in recognition of her work that consistently focuses on the image of the woman and the relation between subject, body, and power. Maria Hahnenkamp’s work is both feminist and socio-critical. Her photographic analyses about presentation and representation, in particular in connection with the female body, were what determined the jury’s decision.
opening on Saturday, November 13, 8 p.m. Speaker Silvia Eiblmayr
Galerie Lisi Hammerle
Anton-Schneider-Strasse 4A - Bregenz
Opening hours: wed-fri 14-16, sat 10-12 and 14-16
and by appointment