Birgit Jürgenssen, Ohne Titel (Selbst mit Fellchen), 1974/77 © SAMMLUNG VERBUND Wien, VBK, Wien, 2010

16 December 2010 – 6 March 2011 – Bank Austria Kunstforum

In the winter of 2010/11, the Bank Austria Kunstforum and the Sammlung Verbund will jointly present the first posthumous retrospective of the work of Birgit Jürgenssen (1949-2003). The Vienna-born artist is regarded as one of the internationally outstanding representatives of the feminist avant-garde. Basing her work on the emancipatory potential of Surrealism and inspiration by Freudian psychoanalysis in dialogue with the social-critical discourse of her generation, since the late 1960s she developed a complex and stylistically multifaceted art.
As a photo artist, drawer, painter, curator and teacher she was influenced by the Body Art of the 1960’s. Her lifelong interest was feminist and social critic approaches and manifestations. Birgit Jürgenssen (and VALIE EXPORT) was already actively involved in the gender debate in the 1970’s (a debate which the art world imported from the USA in the 1990’s) In her work Jürgenssen began subverting cultural constructions of femininity, using her own body as a surface for critically projecting cultural codes. In striking imagery, Jürgenssen succeeded in deconstructing existing constraining cultural and social conditions of women and the mechanisms used to suppress them. In stylized self-portraits, Jürgenssen created scenarios depicting the horror of everyday life, critically elucidating the horizon of socially dictated activities and functions of women. The method that she used, had in part, surrealist origins. In her masquerades, transformations of identity and denunciations of cultural strategies she did fall for the male eroticization of the female body and gender categorization, but recognized seemingly natural femininity as a social construction under the dictate of men. Hans-Peter Wipplinger “Her visual criticism of cultural stereotypes, the ethnic definition and colonization of women in capitalist culture is top-notch (feminist) art.“ Peter Weibel “I took the liberty of working with very different media without thinking right away of how they are marketed. Something I tried to express as a drawing, I implemented as an object and when neither of the two worked I made a photograph.“ Birgit Jürgenssen

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