Her art is about the “social body,” as Katharina Severding says, meaning the social being, which is made up of the state and all the actions within it. But just as quickly you think of the artist herself when she hears the word: Sieverding, who turns 80 this Tuesday, has made herself the center of her work, thus also becoming a “social body.” A kind of medium through which she has been negotiating existential issues such as gender identities for decades.
So Sieverding combined her face in the series “Transformer” circa 1973 with that of her partner. The result were highly aesthetic and androgynous faces with oddly diffuse facial expressions, which early on indicated the individual’s ambiguity. About the artist’s infatuation with “genre” when the term was not yet in the discourse. and the desire to act rather than leave it to the male protagonists, as was common in the 1970s.
These images guarantee Sieverding’s omnipresent presence. Every single show – and there have been several of them in recent years from Havana and Palermo 2018 through Manifesta to now Baden-Baden – faces you with the artist’s face. Attack and in great shape. Can’t escape her inquiring look. This applies to strikingly depicted posters with textual fragments about the time of National Socialism, the discontent of the students and their adoration for Mao Zedong, whose murderous practices one did not want to see.
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This is perhaps one of the reasons why even early photographic work, montages and cross-fading of the many forms (which are often found), look incredibly refreshing. provoke sifting. Her feminist self-confidence is pushed to the surface, as well as political events brewing underground to this day.
She tempts, sucks, spits
In 1977, for example, “The Great White Road Turns Black” was taken as a photo opportunity in New York during a night-time blackout. This is also a huge self-portrait in which the artist embodies, with a drink and an umbrella, the kind of big white that allows him to reach his limit in the same sentence. An image of immortal power – as if Sieverding was waiting for the discussions about the end of the white arrogant gaze.
Born in Prague, the artist went to the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg in 1963, learned fashion design, and one year later moved on to study web design at the Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf, where she still lives today. The play is familiar to her, and the effect is the medium of her mostly intense action on the body. With Joseph Beuys, who attended her class as well as the Academy’s film class, other aspects of her work came to light. When you speak of the “essential force of art” that it seeks to unravel, this release primarily serves the purpose of unconditional interest. Sieverding lures, soaks, spits and lets you look at the blazing sun at night, like the collection of works at the Frieder Burda Museum until January. The strategies are open and everyone can see the means of shooting. What still happens in the photos is still a piece of chemistry.
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