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Muffins, dancing biscuits and foetuses, Snow White in a Pontiac, a millstone on the neck or rather on the woman’s boot as well as wild collages question social norms, traditional images and gender roles. The three artists present topics such as oppression, sexual identity and physicality, sometimes in a playful, sometimes confrontational, in a subtle or more direct way.
Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo carefully composes her works of art which feed on intimate memories and (life) experience. Her work though is not as harmless as this description sounds. Her mostly political works (installation, video, collage and sculpture) deal with tough topics, sometimes in a subtle, often in a very intensive, direct and challenging way. Themes such as race, gender, power structures or sexual self-determination and their interrelationships are analysed, deconstructed and scrutinized. It is of great importance to her that everyone can connect something with her art. At the same time, she wants to confront people with difficult topics, point to different lifestyles that might even clash, but from which the artist draws her inspiration. She drives things that are not immediately perceptible – desire, fear, shame, vulnerability – to extremes so that they cannot be overlooked. In doing so, she likes to make use of common forms of presentation from pop culture that are accessible to most people. The more personal, the more comprehensible for the viewer. In her collage ‘You have something I desire’ or with the row of kissing mouth sculptures ‘I remember you’ she explores in a light and playful way the desire and longing for someone. As opposed to that the concrete blocks chained to the silver boots weigh heavily as a clichéd notion of femininity and a symbol for the woman who is being prevented from moving forward. The image of a young Vietnamese soldier framed by exotic flowers in the collage ‘Wild Flower’ in turn evokes associations with the fetishization of the exotic or with colonial tourism. Coming to the collage books she really goes wild. Here she glues cut-outs (from coffee table books or magazines) of mostly female body parts, faces of celebrities, fashion icons, film scenes and more with wild deliberation and intuitively on, above and next to each other. The artist makes it over the top by adding rhinestones, coloured adhesive strips as well as hearts and slogans scribbled with a felt-tip pen. The result is a diary or graffiti, deconstructing social taboos, commodity fetishism, sexual violence and oppression, utopian ideals and ethnic paradigms.
Zohar Fraiman creates moods and emotional states in her figurative, sometimes abstract paintings, which show dream-like, absurd and mysterious scenarios. Contrasts and contradictions, complex emotional worlds – the ambiguous is paramount here. Imagination or reality, American dream or harsh day-to-day-life, digital versus real world – the boundaries are blurred. The paintings hint at ideals and expectations, expectations the society has regarding female identity and the role of women. Influenced by the Internet, social media, cartoons and the intense colours of modern pop culture, Fraiman transfers this colourfulness also to her paintings – with the aim to create a glow that radiates toward the outside world or evokes the before mentioned moods. Zohar Fraiman plays with the aesthetics of advertising of the 50s, 60s and 70s, also by means of the colours, borrows from cartoon series / figures, record covers, myths or cult films. ‘HB’ for example, shows a kind of huge mouth with scary teeth – the gate to hell or a kind of ‘vagina dentata’ (the myth so called by Freud) or do the women flee to paradise from their own nightmare (to the palms and dolphins)? Here, there is plenty of scope for one’s own interpretations. We find a similar dream-like atmosphere in ‘Muffin Palace’, based on the cartoon ‘Dexter’s Laboratory’, where you could also identify research instruments. Are they investigating the mystery of female sexuality, as the woman touches herself (also alluding to ‘OMG Yes’ an app on the science on the sexual pleasure of women)? And the big muffin in the middle of the picture? It also stands for the female genital in English slang … The fate of the female sheroes or anti-sheroes in her paintings ultimately remains open – can they make their dreams come true, do they break free from social norms or do they even change society? Aladdin’s Jasmin doesn’t seem very happy in the oh so cheerful ladies’ circle in the painting ‘I Just Called to Say’, but in the case of Snow White in ‘Time to Say Good-Bye’ she seems determined to take control of her own life. Up and away she drives in a bright red Pontiac – away from Hollywood, her old life, who knows. These are all questions that the artist asks and that we should or could answer ourselves.
Bianca Kennedy gives voice to lifeless things or to those who do not speak. The topics are varied, Bianca Kennedy is open to everything, not limited to specific issues. The topics flow to her and with an idea in mind usually an image follows of how to implement it. It is important to her to see things from a different point of view, to slip into the minds of others – this can be an animal, but also a plant or even a foetus. Evolution topics, the intelligence of plants, food, our living space, find on the ground might suggest, who their place in her work, but also human abysses or ‘body horror’. Sculptures, plasticine figures, drawings come to life in her stop- motion films or cartoons. In her stop-motion video ‘Limbo Weeks’ she stages the bronze sculptures of Fabian Vogler sometimes as a bathing pregnant woman, sometimes as fantastic creatures that dance in the uterus ballroom and turn nature’s wheel of fortune. It is within the first seven weeks of pregnancy that the biological sex of the unborn child is being determined, which remains, as Bianca Kennedy’s film shows, a game of hormones and coincidence. The artist illustrates the arbitrariness of life and biological gender determination in a funny and unusual way. And incidentally she manages to touch upon a difficult topic such as intersexuality. Perhaps her works are so unusual, playful or detailed, because they are not restricted by a certain attitude or style, but rather implement ideas in an unbiased manner. By evoking childhood associations and playfully presenting her topics, she creates empathy and inhibitions for the viewer are removed. At the same time, the playfulness is combined with black humour and sometimes disturbing images. The bathtub, which appears in ‘Limbo Weeks’ and which could be associated with myths that the temperature of the water determines the sex of the child, is placed in a different form, in reality in the exhibition space and opens up an immersive bathing experience for visitors, in which they can immerse with the help of virtual reality glasses. ‘VR all in this together’ allows us to become a voyeur and watch others taking a bath.
Zohar Fraiman, Bianca Kennedy, Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo – Trio Show Zohar Fraiman