Samstag, 27. November 2021

Collective memory in times of Covid vaccinations

These following thoughts are not about my art, but about what is going on in my society right now, the opression and withdrawal that comes with Covid vaccination and the fear and the resistance against it, wich seems to become more and more severe each day.

Although I know that this fear and scepticism is badly instructed and misused for political purposes, I do have to think what might have caused this fear around Covid vaccination in the first place. 

As I talked in summer to a neighbor at my mother's house who is around ten years older than myself, we  both reassured us that we had reiceved the shots in order to be free again and safe from catching a severe Covid illness. But as we talked along, the memories of the Contergan scandal, which shocked the west-german society in 1961/62, rose. We recalled how people at first trusted the government's reassurance that the medicine was safe to take, also for pregnant women. We know the result: Many babies were born with their arms and legs not being formed out properly. I wasn't born yet when this all happenend. But even in the 70ies and 80ies Contergan was around as a threatening term in my family and in many conversations. It was there and then that people in Germany lost the trust in reassurances, that a new drug would be safe to take.

I am pretty sure that this still wafts through the collective memory as it shook people's trust fundamentally. The way I see this, it is not enough to put pressure on people and shut them off, in order to change their minds. The fact that the Covid vaccine was released on an emergency bases without proper run throughs does not help to dissipate the exisiting doubts and mistrust. 

Something is lost and it is and will be hard and deep work to regain it.

Mittwoch, 24. November 2021

Opening closed systems

I ponder a lot during these days. Recently I did that in the Atrium of Gropius Bau, under the beautiful tree (to me a Baobab Tree) in Emeka Okboh's installation Ámà: The Gathering Place, listening to the beautiful polyphonic voices of Igbo songs. I so loved all the beautifully woven pieces of the tree and of the stools, on which visitors are invited to sit on.

I started to rethink my own artwork and what I do. Many texts you will read here stem from this pondering. I thought about my conservative  catholic upbringing as a teenage girl in the rural area of south Germany and how I would sit with my granny, my mother's mother, who lived in the same village as we did, during the long winter evenings and prepare handcrafted gifts for Christmas: Stiching, Knitting, Crochet. Of course the motives I chose were innocent, like flowers, birds and so on.

My granny and me would listen to the radio, mostly traditional bavarian music. There was never much talking. She would usually knit on a pair of socks. It was during these mostly quiet gatherings that I came to know my grandmother's sadness which she never really revealed to anyone. It was always there, on a subcutaneous level, which is a very strong messenger. I kept this in my tissues and I knew about her sadness and how life would not and never follow a straigth path. A beautiful way of learning, but so powerful that I could only learn to distinguish between my own truth and my grandmother's truth (amongst others of my family) through bodywork and other forms of personal growth work, which I began to practice in my mid-twenties.

When I started to stich again, much later in my life, around 2008, using stretcher frame and canvas as the base for stiching, it was an act of retrocative rebellion against all the restraining introjects I had received during my upbringing in a conservative, patriachal family and community, regarding the body, especially the female body and therefore my own body. My first stiching in fact is a trilogy about the union of the sperm and the egg as the universal symbol for creation and the evolution of something new. I never showed this to my granny, who was then still alive, as she would not have approved of it.

I kept stiching onto the mostly unprimed canvas for some years. Sometimes framed, sometimes loose. The stiching always happened during long winter days. Never in the summertime.

In 2011 I started a series of 5 canvasses, all 30x30 cm, processing the fact that I felt myself to be considered the so called 'black sheep' within my family. It was an act and part of healing and understanding.

I had always felt as being the one who asked questions no one else would ask, addressing voids that no else would  address, causing 'problems' where no one else would see a problem, being labelled as 'annoying and complicated' especially by my mother who never wanted to deal with anything behind the familiy's facade (all forgiven by now).

I still feel the label of trouble maker from time to time when speaking in front of a group, when I seem to be the one who addresses the black spot (ugh, another word to research and ponder about!). Yet: I came a long way with this and I have learned, through Deep Democracy and other systemic forms of process work, that the so called trouble maker has a very important role within a system, as this person pushes things forward and helps to open up encrusted structures, mostly after a period of strong rejection.

I can say from having lived the experience of a 'black sheep': without the black in the middle of the white / cream color, there would be no friction, no contrast. There would be just gradation. It is the group dynamics which defines the negative aspect and the role of the black, before it can acknowledge the importance of opposition and contrast as the driving force for change. Where does this negative connotation stem from? Coming from a rural context myself, I always knew that the black sheep's wool is less valuable on the wool market, because it cannot be colored. So basically it is a form of devaluation in terms of economic use. Talking in the world of color and contrast, black has as high a 'value' as white. And besides, why not having a sheep in the herd just for the sake of having it in the herd?

And since I have overcome this label (at least for most of the time), I can go on to a differentiated way of seeing myself: As the multitude of things that I am (to quote Walt Whitman here).

Dienstag, 23. November 2021

All my work is deeply personal

Full stop.

Infact sometimes it feels like my work is a sort of bye-product of my encounters with the world.

Or better: I find forms to express the essence of these encounters and relationships.

What matters to me is meeting and interacting with people.

Thus I hope my work is universal too, as we are all connected as human beings.

Montag, 15. November 2021

On: #soulpaintings, Continuum and ...-isms

Today I had the pleasure tp present my work in front of some dear artist colleagues: some of my older performances, some of my installation work, some recent poetry and my latest series of work #soulpaintings, which I displayed on Instagram so far.

When I had finished my presentation, I addressed the question that arises frequently within myself and within the audience, how my different works are related or better, how the #soulpaintings relate to my body of work.

My answer, which rose quite spontaneouly was: "Soul is what the world will always need. If there is no heart and no soul in this world, it will collapse."


Nothing to add.

Besides: The #soulpaintings arise from within, often through practicing Continuum.  

Continuum to me is a fantastic somatic method to deconstruct and dissolve the cultural body and to detox from the slumbers that come with the adaptation to our society, be it captialistic, paternalistic, ..ic, ...ic, ...ic, ...ic. Don't get me wrong, I am not a cultral pessimist as such, but I do believe, that it is utterly important to rewind from time to time and get back to our pure and culturally unimprinted body as our source, in order to find new answers and to reconnect. Continuum is species inclusive, which means that in the practice itself we touch into our evolutionary ancestry. 

Emilie Conrad, Life on Land: 
“Our organism thrives by seeking new vectors and interactions for sustenance. When thwarted, the organism becomes insular, vulnerable to illness and when our sensory world becomes excessively patterned, responses become habitual, reducing our life force.”

#soulpainting, limnial

pigments in oil on canvas, 100x100 cm, 2021

Freitag, 12. November 2021

This is how we learn and grow - on (de-)colonization


Some of my 'older' works on my website feel outdated from a decolonial point of view and I would probably not make them the same way with the awareness I have by now: 
Also Ein Schwarzes muss es immer geben is certainly debatable, although it is deeply personal and emphazises the need for contrast.
I have learned a lot since then from the field I am in and from the discussion that is going on around me, e.g. from the people at SAVVY contemporary
But I decided to keep the works on the website anyways, as life is a constant learning process and part of being an artist.

The postcard project Grüße aus Kpalimé is a reenactment of the colonial habit of writing postcards from the colonies as an act of ruling, but it remains to the writer, of how conscious he /she uses this.
The work Koloniales Muster however shows full awareness of the colonial patterns we are still in nowadays: 
Colonial pattern is a sample for a larger project, which I realized with Kofa Bataka in Togo: 50/50 does't mean we're even now (not displayed on the website yet).
The project is about the imbalance between the global south and the global north, between CFA and Euro, but also between being an academically trained european midcareer artist and a young self-taught togoan artist, both struggeling in their own way with life and being a professional.

I thought up a concept and Kofa helped me to realize it. Through this I helped him to finance his apprenticeship as a hairdresser in Kpalimé, Togo.
One could say: A classical way of white saviourism, if one whishes to do so. 
Or one could say: A private form of development aid. This is certainly true. 
"That is so, Mommy"  (a lovely quote from: An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma)
The project derived from deep sympathy for a befriended young and extremely talented artist, in whom I saw myself. I wanted to create something to help him grow and at the same time create a form for expressing on how we are intertwined by our colonial history. 
No, it is not a project which decolonizes something. It rather emphazises the existing asymmetrical economic, as the result of the still exisitng colonial structures. On a deeper level the project deals with the universal question on how to thrive in the context in which we liive, be it Europe or Africa.
If I am going to sell the piece, I will split with Kofa 50/50. This will finance me for one month. He will be able to buy a plot of Land in Togo for farming - his dream.