– a text on the work, 1999
My work concentrates on the female body in its various codifications. Already in my diploma project, one sees an investigation of the “human measure” in space, whereby my own body measurements were described and circumscribed in the work.
The artwork that I am working on now demonstrates less my own personal approach to corporeality, and more the social codifications to which the body is subjected.
In this work I use drawings obtained from a book published in the 1970s: striptease directions for the housewife to aid her in pepping up her husband when he returns home from work and enliven the marital relationship. I was particularly interested in the crass stereotypes used for illustration, both in the drawings of the female body and in the language used in describing it. The body is described as something to be used, exchangeable as if it were the subject of a user’s manual.
Here femininity is reduced to its instrumental application; it does not stand for itself, and correspondingly it is generalized and simplified.
These text passages and illustrations are contrasted with photos from an earlier video work, giving rise to an overlapping of various layers: personal, intimate life experiences are juxtaposed with illustrative directions for use, and all of this is sealed under layers of varnish.
To stress the irony and contrast of this ambiguity, the little panels are packed in black felt, both for protection and to accent their similarity to icons hung on the wall. Both open and closed, they offer various possibilities of representation in contrast to the triviality of the means of depiction.
Ingrid Gaier 1999