Thomas Zika, ‘Drama Queens - Beloved Enigma’, 2015-2018, Rademakers Gallery

drama queens 2015-18
I am collecting certain female photographic portraits from around the 1880 – 1910 years; they seem to whisper to me in a kind of intimate way. Small carte-de-visite photographs depicting young women within the scope of the former accepted social and esthetic conventions. As the century of romanticism was not known for their female artists, complying with the social standards of the Victorian or Prussian view of the world, the role model for women provided a non-emancipated life as a housekeeper and mother beside their husbands.
The widespread female malady of “Hysteria” was diagnosed as physical infirmity not until the invention of psychoanalysischanged the general perceptioninto emotional distress / mental disorder. I am most interested in those photographs where the depicted women look hysterical,domineered, ingenious, demented, suppressed, piously, enlightened,whimsical, spiritually hopeful and
sexually unfullfilled longing for death: DRAMA QUEENS

I already used mushrooms in my former photographic artistic project “somnambule” to produce semi-chaotic modifications on the surface of large-format negatives. The truncated mushroom heads segregate their spores upon the surface lying underneath originating lamellar circle outlines appearing as a mix of explosion and aura. Before exposing the actual photographic motives to light, the fungus generates random esthetics on the photosensitive layer by destroying / re-determinating the film already in its latent stage.
In the manner above described I place mushroom heads upon the unfullfilled women’s portraits. Basing upon these nearly non-dimensional superpositions I am creating pictorial uniques which bring up new potential messages and viewpoints, regrettably often destroying the whole photograph;the god of chaos demands his toll. The better appropriations generate extremely delicate aureoles and it seems as if these re-auratizations could transform the whole psychic dilemma, could palliate posthumously the psychological need: AURA – HEALINGS

Depending on serendipity these coronas have the impression of subtle illuminations, or simply blossom into floral masks and seem to enable as a nimbus to transform the portrayed into saints. I am using the biological ambivalence (as a decomposer and re-mineralizer) of the semi-unorganic mush-rooms for the ambivalence of my experimental image development. For me it is actually very important letting go certain control of the image origination process to realize artistic research questions formerly impossible to pose, to think, to see.
In the second half ot the 19th century a russian baroness writes in her “Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff” about very intimate feelings of her life. She wanted to become an artist and painter and described highly subjective about being rejected at artist salons, her failure in certain mechanical skills, how dependant she is on some teachers and critic’s opinions, and how she is more and more longing for death during her plenty travels around Europe, how finally tuberculosis carries her away. From this journal I found some lines decscribing her death wishes, her hysteria, and how the inner conflicts between a baroness’ role model and an artist feel. I compiled them into a poetic preface for the artist book accompanying the work “drama queens”.

The “drama queens” are presented in wooden walnut shadow box frames, partly where the whole carte-de-visite is visible as an object, partly as photographs under diagonal-cut passepartouts. Both showcase modes have to praise the unique and delicate appeal of the work.

About Thomas Zika