The exhibition “Der abscheuliche Kuss” at Kunstverein Dresden draws its title from the 12th-century Latin term “Osculum Infame” (The Shameful Kiss), which was believed to be heretics’ ritual upon meeting the Devil. The Devil was thought to take the form of an animal – a goat or perhaps a black cat – and the kiss was to be given under its tail. During the years of the witch hunts in Europe, the Osculum Infame became a tangible accusation against heretics and witches. Instrumentalised as pretext for the fierce persecution and the demonisation of an Other, it was used against any individuals who transgressed the artificial boundaries between nature and culture, dominance and submission.
The work of the three artists in the exhibition – Sanam Khatibi, Jessie Makinson, and Urara Tsuchiya – precisely explores the wider power dynamics underlying such accusations through an exploration of violence and sensuality across human and animal species. Filled with humour and antagonism, the artists’ paintings, tapestries and ceramics reflect the ambivalence in more-than-human behaviour. As cruelty and care become interchangeable, the scenes present a kind of lust shaped by a constant negotiation between desire and repulsion.
Sanam Khatibi (b. 1979) lives and works in Brussels. She had solo exhibitions at Kunsthal Gent (2020) and BPS22, Charleroi (2019), among others. Other recent exhibitions include: Centraal Museum, Utrecht (2020); the 16th Istanbul Biennial (2019); M HKA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp (2019); and MAC, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Marseille (2019).
Jessie Makinson (b. 1985) lives and works in London. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Lyles & King, New York (2020, 2019, 2018); Fabian Lang, Zurich (2019); Galería OMR, Mexico City (2019); Nicodim Gallery, Bucharest/Los Angeles (2018); TJ Boulting, London (2018).
Urara Tsuchiya (b. 1979) lives and works in Glasgow. Previous exhibitions include a solo presentation at Ada Projects, Rome (2020); Frieze, London (2019); Glasgow International (2018), Trade Gallery, Nottingham (2017); and Union Pacific, London (2016).