It is the gap between the making of sexual difference, the signifying of sexual difference and identities construed across the process and the naming that gives us hope – for there it is that transformation and revolution are possible.
(Griselda Pollock, Painting, Feminism, History)
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE 80,01°C
RELATIVE HUMIDITY 26,6%
We have to reschedule our visit to the sauna, but you know that. Because your solo exhibition at Sophie Tappeiner in Vienna is about, among other things, representation and space, it is important to me, to make our connection transparent. Therefore, this is in a letter format—since I am not only writing as a colleague but as a confidante, who over the past year, has gained personal insight into your practice.
EVERYONE NEEDS TO DISROBE
ALCOHOLIC INFUSIONS ARE PROHIBITED
WHEN THE DOOR’S LIGHT GLOWS RED, NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO ENTER OR EXIT OTHERWISE ONE
RISKS DEATH-STARES AND LOUD INDIGNATION
It is hard to think about your work without thinking about your own body, the body of the painter. I imagine you at the public pool Amalienbad reclining in between your models, thinking about how problematic it still is to paint female nudes on canvas.
AT LEAST 30 CM DISTANCE
DON’T USE THE SAUNA ON AN EMPTY OR FULL STOMACH
For me, your womxn* are not so much exposed, rather side-by-side. Their representation is sensual but does not serve a hetereo-normative sexiness. They are not serial girls, propagating an illusion of perfection and willingness, they have their own conflicts. Your pictures are so to speak sketched social studies of Viennese womxn* who can afford to go to the sauna (most likely) in neo-liberal self-care manner to regenerate in order to be ready for their upcoming work or are already enjoying their pension.
You once told me, your paintings come into being in the following way: Sometimes you retrace experienced situations, however, primarily, you confront yourself with the canvas and the application of paint in the moment of action. “Compositions often emerge with the size of the paintbrush in relation to the canvas.” Sometimes you turn the canvas during the painting process and continue painting with a changed perspective. Through this, pictures in pictures or spaces in spaces appear. Womxn*-only spaces should protect from sexual violence, sexist objectification, and structural unequal power struggles, or rather, male dominance. However, these spaces are not free of conflict. Starting with the invitation policy—not all, for whom safe spaces are necessary—identify with the category womxn*. Being aware of this, the people and body parts in your pictures display hardly any sexual connotations while being explicitly naked. Some are cut off at the edge of the canvas—a “Painter’s trick”, you say smiling. “It suggests to the viewer that the scene extends beyond the canvas.” The selective view, indications, and distortions in your representations point to the limits of the canvas and further the general limitation of the ability of representation itself. The situations depicted are layered, like their intersectional, inherent feminist discourses; they are too complex for universally historic or theoretical narratives—nevertheless, the visibility of their questioning is essential.
2-3 SESSIONS IN THE SAUNA 8-15MIN EACH
USE INFUSION ESSENCES MODERATELY
“Some things that stood at the beginning must be toppled to see what happens”.—As you say this, I think that this is the origin of the spectrum of your work: your personal approach and the power of expression act through gestures, patterns, and figuration. Abstract neo-expressionism gets hit by Ana Manso’s composition aesthetic and Therese Oulton’s refusal of representation, to then, finally stage—because non-representational unfortunately also tends to be non-political—images of womxn* from 1960-70s socialist realism doing genderless bodywork.
REMOVE YOUR JEWELLERY AS IT MAY BURN
DON’T APPLY BODY OILS, THEY CAUSE SPOTS
IF IT SHOULD COME TO UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATIONS REMAIN CALM
AFTERWARDS, TAKE A COLD SHOWER
The bath attendant creates an infusion, and through different fanning techniques, she induces a wave of loud sighs breathing out. The heads bow, except for maybe yours, because you are looking around a little bit to see how the light reflects on the sweating bodies. The infusion increases the humidity that hinders the evaporation of sweat on skin and further heats the body. Steam sets over the contours. The flag is waved and with this revolutionary gesture, everyone begins to sweat mightily.
4.03.’20 Gianna Virginia Prein
translation: Nina Prader