in Curating, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK)
I will be your idol
4 – 20 April 2019
Vernissage: Thursday 4 April 2019, 6.30-9.30pm
Performance: Saturday 13 April 2019, 2-8pm by Maëlle Gross
In collaboration with Zürich moves 2019
Artists Gery Georgieva, Maëlle Gross et Ceylan Öztrük
Curated by Camille Regli
OnCurating Project Space, Zurich
The exhibition “I will be your idol” examines the origin of our cultural references and questions the relationship between normative and subversive cultures. More specifically, the works (re)present female-like figures who, by redefining established gender constructions and breaking binary codes, resist power relations and influence knowledge production. By shedding light on these new representations, the exhibition imagines a world in which these idols can stand up against contemporary knowledge and subvert the narratives.
Originally, the word idol comes from the Latin “idolum”, which translates as “image, form” or “the image that takes form”, referring to the material representation of a divinity, intended for religious worship. Popular culture appropriated the term to define a person that generates admiration and veneration among their peers. In other words, the idol represents a figure with symbolic and idealistic values – a model that influences individuals’ behaviours, codes of conduct as well as knowledge production.
Living in a Western society that functions under the influence of a hegemonic culture and standard cultural references, we could ask ourselves: what if idols, coming from marginal and underrepresented cultures, could destabilise the establishment of our societal system and open up the spectrum of perspectives? Would those idols succeed in freeing ourselves from the rooted hierarchies of class, gender and race; from our patriarchal society where power is still strongly held by male figures; and from the growing impact of globalisation on our social relations and identity?
Through the work of three multidisciplinary artists working across video art and performance, the exhibition explores the politics of difference in the form of new subversive figures that redefine the narratives surrounding the body, language, culture and history. Maëlle Gross takes the viewer onboard her space vessel with A ‘Sirius Human’ (2018), where a rebellious woman escapes planet Earth in direction to Sirius, the planet of female energy. Gery Georgieva stages herself as the “Rose Queen” in ‘The Blushing Valley’ (2017) referring both to the Balkan traditions and to the American pop culture. Ceylan Öztrük fights the historical grip of the “male gaze” with ‘Call me Venus’ (2016) by revisiting the representation of the prehistoric goddess Venus to another type of use.
Ceylan Öztrük, Call me Venus, 2016, video channel, photographs loops
Ceylan Öztrük presents a new version of her work ‘Call me Venus’ in which she reproduces and recreates prehistoric Venus statuettes as dildos questioning the writing and perpetuation of history by patriarchal figures. ‘Call me Venus’ focuses on the status of women in the context of historical knowledge and contemporary practices. Through this work, the artist challenges preconceived ideas by reinterpreting them.
Ceylan Öztrük, The Venus of Willendorf, 2014, HD video, 4 min
The Venus of Willendorf consists in one of Ceylan Öztrük’s first phases of research in reconfigurating patriarchal historisation. The video work is an intervention performance realised in the Natural History Museum in Vienna without permission – just like a guerrilla gesture. The artist produced flyers in which she portrays the iconic Venus of Willendorf as an erotic figure rather than a patriarchal and historical narrative. She put these flyers directly on the pedestal of the Venus of Willendorf in the museum to reassess its symbolic status.
Gery Georgieva, The Blushing Valley, 2017, HD video, 3:30 min
Through her DIY costumes and per-formances London-based artist Gery Georgieva questions gender and culture construction, as well as fe-male emancipation. With ‘The Blush-ing Valley’ the artist is presented for the first time in Zurich. In the work, she stages herself as a hallucinatory version of Bulgaria’s famous Rose Queen, a young woman who is se-lected through a beauty pageant to represent the region. The audio is an original recording from the ceremony of the crowning of the Rose Queen which takes place annually in Kazan-lak, in the Rose Valley region of Bul-garia – the most important area of cultivation for the country’s rose oil.
Maëlle Gross, A Sirius Human, 2018, HD video, 15 min
‘A Sirius Human’ portrays a patriarchal world on the verge of self-destruction, where a rebellious extraterrestrial woman escapes the Earth to arrive on Sirius, the planet of female energy. Gradually she loses her male-domi-nated language to a new form of com-munication inspired by ‘New Age 2.0’, ‘Light language’ and ‘Láadan’, feminist language and research from the 80s. Maëlle Gross’ artistic practice focuses extensively on the ‘gaze’ as well as on identity and gender issues, stressing the personal, sometimes anecdotal stories of the different characters she encounters… or creates.
Maëlle Gross, THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN, 2019, performance on Sat 13 April
As part of Zürich moves! The crash on planet Sirius is imminent. The Captain has resisted the most patriarchal dictatorship that planet Earth has ever known. Featuring characters that are neither fully human, nor completely female, nor totally cyborg, the performance ‘THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN’ invites the viewers to immerse themselves in a strange journey.
Camille Regli (b. 1990 in Lausanne) currently lives between Basel and Zurich after several years in London. She holds a master in Cultural Studies at King’s College London and attended the MAS in Curating at the ZHdK from 2017 to 2019. She gained experience as communications specialist in contemporary art, working with international institutions including the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2018; 2019), Gropius Bau (2019), the Istanbul Biennale (2017), M HKA museum of contemporary art (2019), Performance art festival Block Universe (2017; 2018) and more. Her curatorial interests lie in ‘small’ narratives’ (as opposed to overarching narratives) that challenge the relations between normative and subversive cultures, with an interest in performance art and immersive environments. She curated several exhibitions at the OnCurating Project Space, including the group show Queering the exhibition, I will be your idol and the performance This is your captain in collaboration with Zürich moves. She is part of the multi-formatted project Choreographing the Public and the discursive series I might be wrong. She is also a regular editor and contributor of the academic journal OnCurating.org.