if the body is a temple and a body is a subject and a temple has walls – it becomes apparent that a temple is a body
Simultanhalle’s exhibition series at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art is structured into three individual phases, each showcasing a particular aspect of its curatorial practice. The first of these exhibitions takes the rich history of the project space as a starting point and picks up on the profound investment during Simultanhalle’s early years in rendering visible female artists and their specific forms of practice and organization. As Czech artist Eva Janošková took on the main role in setting up an open space for artists and interested viewers in the early 1980s, she became one of a few female protagonists to head a project space in the Rhineland at the time. Janošková equally grantedfemale artists a place to exhibit, all the while macho figures of artist movement Neue Wilde shaped what is now deemed as Cologne’s most significant contribution to art history. Her strategies in autonomous and critical organization showcase the political potential of creating networks, building bridges, and inventing communities.
The exhibition ’if the body is a temple and a body is a subject and a temple has walls – it becomes apparent that a temple is a body’ takes a quote from a poem by Klara Kayser (*1986, Hanover, Germany) as its meandering leitmotiv. The sentence alludes to several relations the body – and especially the female body – is caught up in during processes of labor, artistic production, self–organization, and spirituality. Kayser’s installation ‘Ravish Me Pink’ is comprised of decoratively draped curtains that ascribe a homely feel to the exhibition space. The sculptural intervention evokes a domestic narrative, seemingly disappearing into the background while rendering the exhibition space an area of private activity. The silicone tiebacks shaped like penises appear as a subtle, tongue-in-cheek detail that informs a gendered reading of the work. Kayser’s use of the material alludes to notions of the body andreferences its form as a signifier for social and narrative juxtapositions.
The installation by Alex Heilbron (*1987, Greenbrae, California, USA) aims to induce relaxation and care for a body in need. Various greenhouses are home to a specific herb or plant that can be harvested on-site and later used for teas and tinctures. Their ability to calm a troubled or anxious body is intended to pose as critical and resistant to modes of contemporary life. A capitalist society is the driving force behind numerous contemporary physical impairments, yet these disruptions in one’s body are later shunned by the structure that created it. The artist offers a tool for collective self-care through which the stressed find relief in a system of giving and caring. This approach also guides Heilbron’s zine-project ‘Looping’, which serves as a tool for self-organized production, opening up a space for autodidactic learning and the mediation of working processes to enable others. The collective nature of the exhibition situation is translated into a juxtaposition of material objects whose sensory and ontological thresholds serve as connective tissue.
Located among traditional painting techniques, the works by Magdalena Kita (*1983, Debrica, Poland) develop their entangled narratives through an exuberant visual language. Kita’s flamboyant works take on different forms such as table cloths, towels, or icons and interlink both visual and material grammars of female semiotics. Her painted objectsmanipulate the imagery of femininity and its highly affect-based vocabulary to unfold narratives of socio-political paradoxes. Positioning one’s practice in a specifically female terrain, therefore, means telling stories about consistently shifting grounds.
The exhibition not only works as a political objective to emphasize collaborative, feminist practices but also encourages a re-evaluation of diverging modes of working that employ aesthetic production as a tool for creating connections. If the body is a site of political, aesthetic, moral, and spiritual debate then it is necessary not to convert it into an abstract absolute. Rather, it is to be read as essentially residing in-between discourses and their differing temporality and communities.
Artists: Alex Heilbron, Klara Kayser, Magdalena Kita
Curated by Dennis Brzek and Morgaine Schäfer
16.12.2017 – 11.01.2018
Moscow Museum of Modern Art Ermolaevsky 17 Education Center