Her performances in the New York of the 1920s were legendary: clad in fantastical costumes and posing in bizarre tableaux vivants, Florence Foster Jenkins belted out operatic arias with unbridled enthusiasm, rarely hitting a right note. She is considered the worst opera singer of all time, despite being convinced, throughout her life, of her exceptional artistic ability, pursuing her career with great tenacity and seriousness. Owing to this combination of eccentric hubris with an exceptional lack of talent, she nonchalantly transcended gender roles and social class and thus became a cult figure, admired to this day.
Director Ralf Pleger, recipient of this year’s Echo Klassik Award, has turned her story into a film, featuring celebrated opera singer Joyce DiDonato in the lead role. To mark the cinematic release of “Die Florence Foster Jenkins Story” on 10 November 2016, the group exhibition “Me, Myself and I” will show artworks that tackle issues of self-dramatization and identity. What unites all of the featured artists is a spirit of extravagance, a technique of hyperbolic representation, and the fact that they are radical, relentless, uncompromising and passionate when it comes to their work- just like the self-styled prima donna, and early representative of camp, in the first half of the twentieth century.
The multimedia artist Colette, for instance, has been combining art and life in radical fashion since the early 1970s, by adopting, staging and photographing herself as different personas, which makes her a precursor to such artists as Cindy Sherman, an influencer of popular culture and an icon in her own time. Equally groundbreaking is the work of Jürgen Klauke, who, in his photo series from the same era, appears as an extravagantly exaggerated, androgynous fictional character, challenging traditional social beliefs and gender roles. Language, gender and ethnicity are the centre of Ming Wong’s work, who became famous with his re-interpretations of the classics of world cinema, in which he acts and speaks all of the roles, while Mariana Hahn explores and makes visible the power of the symbols of feminine identity and the stories that are inscribed within them, always using silk, shellac and ink as her materials. Performance is also the chosen language of Cassils, who investigates the interaction of the body and its surroundings in her work. This exhibition features a still of one of her video works. Miriam Lenk plays her very own, wild “melody of life”, her provocative sculptures of hybrid creatures (combinations of human, animal and plant elements) almost exploding with a zest for life. In her collages Hendrina Krawinkel tackles the objectifying and clichéd representations of femininity, her forceful brushstroke endowing the bloodless models from glossy magazines with a gaily-coloured presence. Hansa Wißkirchen, on the other hand, incorporates autobiographical experiences and defining influences into his dadaesque assemblages and collages.
The exhibition is topped off with stills and props from Ralf Pleger’s film and original recordings of Florence Foster Jenkins.
Saturday, 12 November 2016, 6 – 9 pm
12 November – 7 January 2017
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