Lips Painted Red is formed as a set of three exhibitions taking place at both of Trondheim Kunstmuseum’s venues, TKM Bispegata and TKM Gråmølna. The separate exhibition of pioneering Peruvian conceptualist Teresa Burga’s work is a first presentation of her in Scandinavia, after the general survey at the Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano in Lima 2010 and the succeeding exhibition at the Westfälischer Kunstverein.
The largest section of Lips Painted Red, (re-)appropriate, approaches identities and bodies as domains that are denied, distorted, appropriated, contested, destabilized, and continuously re-configured.
The final section, explore and expand, encircles approaches that re-empowers the female gender, as satire, as power play, as manifestations of self-confidence, and strategies that use old metaphors for new means.
In a series of seminal works from the late 1960s, Peruvian artist Teresa Burga explores bright colour fields on large cubicles and other geometrical shapes, to be stacked or playfully spread around. Other works from the same period are cut-outs: flat figures to be placed against walls, which developed from her experimentation in painting and collage works.
This is certainly pop art, but it is also feminist art that liberates its female figures—at a time and in a place where the conditions of women were far from free. In the 1970s, Burga’s position moved rapidly into a more strict conceptual approach. Diagrams, texts, drawings made with eyes closed, works that comment on their own process of making, and a multitude of self-portraits. These works are sometimes ornamental, often humorous, and always very formalist. “Profile of Peruvian Women” is finally a series of works centered on the social condition of women, now reduced to sexual objects and vessels for human reproduction.
Teresea Burga belongs to an all but vanished generation of artists that introduced new approaches to the Peruvian art scene, but who were quickly marginalized, partly due to the lack of understanding from an audience, but first and foremost by the political oppression instigated by the military dictatorship.
For many years the works of Teresa Burga were almost forgotten. A large retrospective at Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano in 2010 changed the situation, and she is today facing renewed interest. This is a rediscovery of an artist fully comparable to contemporaries like American Hanna Wilke, Brazilian Lygia Clark or the German conceptualist Hanne Darboven.
Teresa Burga (born 1935 in Iquitos, Peru) studied at Art Institute of Chicago in 1968–70. She lives and works in Lima, Peru.
The largest section of Lips Painted Red, (re-)appropriate at TKM Bispegata, approaches identities and bodies as domains that are denied, distorted, appropriated, contested, destabilized, and continuously re-configured. This is not a survey, as the area is too vast and multi-faceted, but gives insights and perspectives, from surrealist pioneer photographer Claude Cahun exploring gender transgression, to the works of Nkule Mabaso, investigating constructions of race and female identity. Croatian conceptualist Sanja Iveković is yet another pioneering artist who consistently has worked with gender issues and gender stereotypes.
A central work in this section is the four-screen video work by Kutluğ Ataman, Women Who Wear Wigs (1999), where four women tell the stories about why they have to, or have chosen to, wear wigs.
Transgender issues are strong sub-themes in (re-)appropriate, where gender ambiguities are reflected through documentary and fictional approaches in video, photography, installation and animation, including artists from around the world, a generation span over nine decades.
Artists in (re-)appropriate include Kutluğ Ataman, Claude Cahun, A K Dolven, Rune Eraker, Parker Ito, Sanja Iveković, Shigeyuki Kihara, Nkule Mabaso, Anna Nordquist-Andersson, Lasse Persson (Lisa Tulin), Mari Sanden, Penelope Slinger, Christer Strömholm, Vibeke Tandberg, Inga Svala Thórsdóttir
explore and expand
In Lips Painted Red: explore and expand, the focus shifts towards positions outside and beyond familiar borders and definitions of female gender, and occasionally also moves the attention to and beyond the physical side of gender expectations. The Berlin-based artists Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, who consider themselves “queer archaeologists,” are not only dealing with floating gender borders, but also the floating borders between actors and film makers, and between the film and the audience.
Intimacy and exposure are intertwined in the two video works by American artist Leigh Ledare, which follow the line of his famous photographic project depicting his mother modelling, often in quite straightforward sexual situations. New Zealand-based Hye Rim Lee has worked with her animation character Toki for a decade. The artifice of the computer-generated images meet with a world of physical lust, idealized and remote, the manga persona repeating human emotions like a virtual ghost of desire.
Lisa Jonasson subtle sabotage of gender expectations in her text-based posters have become iconic in her home country Sweden.
Physical and performative practices are well represented in explore and expand, from Danish Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, who in her performances combine rap and recital in acts that try out roles in gender, race and art, to the physically challenging work by Norwegian artist Karianne Stensland and the semi-fictional character Peggy Sue developed by Jenny Grönvall from Sweden. Also the photographic works by Heli Rekula and Else Marie Hagen involve strong aspects of performativity.
Artists in explore and expand include Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz, Nadja Bournonville, Jenny Grönvall, Else Marie Hagen, Lisa Jonasson, Leigh Ledare, Hye Rim Lee, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, Heli Rekula, and Karianne Stensland.
Lips Painted Red is curated by Pontus Kyander, director of Trondheim kunstmuseum.
The exhibition is supported by Creative New Zealand and The Danish Arts Council. Trondheim kunstmuseum is a part of MiST, Museene i Sør-Trøndelag.