janet grau



Performance, installation, 2003

The starting point for this project were the daily images and captions in the tabloid press, especially the so-called ‘pussies’ – images of naked women in erotic poses. These text-image combinations are designed to perpetuate, confirm, and satisfy the reader’s desires, prejudices, and curiosities.

Despite their powerful allure, these sensational messages are typically discarded, highlighting a stark contrast between the powerful intent behind these text-image strategies and their eventual fate in the trash.

To explore the recycling of ephemeral messages, the work Wiedergabe (Reproduction) focused on repurposing the tabloid content. In a publicly accessible studio setting, I separated the texts from their corresponding images and meticulously transferred these messages to another medium (cheap handkerchiefs) through embroidery. This time-consuming process not only stabilizes and preserves the texts, but also removes them from their original, spontaneous context, rendering them enigmatic.

For example, a caption such as “What a nuisance: no one has an eye for Corinna’s puzzle. Well, dear artist: you don’t distract the audience,” loses its immediate meaning when isolated from the photo and embroidered.

The time invested gives these texts a new value, transforming them through the traditional craft of embroidery. This act becomes a gesture of lamenting the objectification and violence inherent in the representation of bodies and gazes.

The work-in-progress and its results culminated in an installation that evolved over several days, offering a glimpse into a process usually confined to the privacy of a studio.

"No, my dear gentlemen! Today Anita is not coming bare-breasted. Instead, she brings a task with her: Take a look behind the façade of a woman. Then you'll discover surprising and exciting things."

Wiedergabe was created for zeitraum_ex!t’s performance festival DO YOU UNDERSTAND. The theme of the festival was how art can be used as a method of exploring the various ‘media’ of language.

Photos: Peter Empl

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