In the exhibition Identity Haleh Gallery presents two artists, whose artistic works revolve around portraying women. Shadi Ghadirian’s use of the chador (the Iranian version of a veil) as an aesthetic medium can be traced to the cultural context of her homeland, Iran.  In the works of Annegret Soltau the artist’s body is always used as a primary artistic material. Thereby creative subject and object are most closely interlinked. Even though both artists represent different generations and continents, they question concepts of female identity and accepted role models on a similar level of form and content. Textiles, like drapery and thread serve for Shadi Ghadirian and Annegret Soltau as a sort of leitmotif to envisage their personal experiences as women. The mission statement of the feminist artists of the 1970ies is for both artists still valid and relevant.

Shadi Ghadirian (*1974) is one of the internationally best-known Iranian artists. In her photograph series titled from the Qajar (1998-1999) Ghadirian refers directly to the picture language of the qajar photography of 19th century. The artist lets her female protagonists pose with western consumer goods such as a Pepsi can. With these anachronistic images Shadi Ghadirian targets the issue of women who are living in Iran and whose daily life in the Iranian patriarchal society is characterized through the conflict between modernity and tradition.
An ironic commentary about the reduction of a woman to a housewife can be found in a series of works titled Like Every day (2000-2001).  Here women have been portrayed in colourful flower patterned chadors. But they are deprived of any individuality since their faces have been replaced by various household articles, which serve mainly for cooking and cleaning. Through the sculptural appearance of the veiled women and the combination with everyday objects, which remind us pretty much of Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades, this artistic piece can be seen as sculptural work.

Annegret Soltau’s (*1946) artistic œuvre encompasses a great range such as videos, performances, collages and photography. The series Selbst (1975-1976) is her first work where the thread becomes a mean of artistic expression. The photos have been taken during a performance. With the thread the artist produces netlike drawings on her body. Later these lines were overstitched with a real thread. This work can be read as a document of feministic art of the 1970ies. Many of the then active female artists, such as VALIE EXPORT, Carolee Schneemann and Yoko Ono chose performance as their artistic medium. Performance was a relatively recent art genre and was merely not male connoted, thus it provided new opportunities for female artists. Thereby the individual body was used as an artistic medium and this result in an inseparable unit between artist and artistic material.
What is identity? And how should we define identity? These fundamental questions are raised in the series personal identity (2003-2012). Original documents, which function as genuine symbols of identity, were stitched on passport photographs of the artist. Specially cut into organic forms they cover the artist’s face and offer anonymity. This series is a work still in progress. The first image begins with the artist’s birth certificate. The last image will include Soltaus’s death certificate and will be assembled by one of her descendants.

Haleh Gallery cordially invites you to the opening of the exhibition Identity, on Friday 19th April 2013.

The artist ANNEGRET SOLTAU will be present at the opening

Opening Hours: Thursday – Friday 11:00 to 16:00  – Wednesday and Saturday by appointment

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