Hannah Wilke, Gestures (film still), 1974 © Marsie, Emanuelle, Damon and Andrew Scharlatt / Bildupphovsrätt, Sweden / VAGA, New York, NY

25.11 2019

Hannah Wilke – body and representation

View two of Hanna Wilke’s video works in the collection. Self-portraits and body language are essential themes in Hannah Wilke’s practice. She explores them in relation to gender and power, often using her own body in photographs, paintings and performances, assuming the role of the sexualised woman in popular culture and art. Read the introduction to this collection presentation, which is also available next to the artworks in the museum.

Wilke began as a sculptor in a minimalist tradition. She used “low” materials, such as play-doh, chewing-gum, latex, or lint from tumble-driers. Her series of organically-shaped objects often associated to female genitalia, a motif she wanted to reclaim.

In the film ”Gestures”, Wilke uses her own face as her material. She kneads and pulls at the skin, sculpting it into grotesque grimaces and creating noises with her hands that imply violence, only to then subdue her expression into graceful and stereotypical “femininity”, resembling images from advertising or fashion.

Hannah Wilke, Hannah Wilke Through the Large Glass, 1976 © Marsie, Emanuelle, Damon and Andrew Scharlatt / Bildupphovsrätt, Sweden / VAGA, New York, NY

Hannah Wilke and Marcel Duchamp

”Hannah Wilke Through The Large Glass” is one of Wilke’s most famous performances; a striptease seen through a key work by the French artist Marcel Duchamp at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In the film, she deftly disarms one of the most iconic pieces in art history, one that epitomises the cult of the male genius: Duchamp’s ”The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even” (1915–1923), also known as The Large Glass. This work exists in a small number of unique editions, two of which are in the Moderna Museet collection.

Marcel Duchamp was seminal in regenerating the very concept of art, especially with his readymades – everyday objects that are redefined as art by the context in which they are shown. “To honour Duchamp is to oppose him,” said Hannah Wilke.

Marcel Duchamp, La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires, même, 1915–1923 © Succession Marcel Duchamp / Bildupphovsrätt 2019

You find the room in the Collection on floor 4

Map of Moderna Museet.

Published 25 November 2019 · Updated 2 December 2019