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FEMINIST is nominated for the german Fotobuchpreis 2013

Authors: Babara Vinken, Annie Goodner

Hardcover ca. 288 x 240cm
ca. 120 pages
ca. 100 color ills.
German/English

ISBN 978-3-86828-290-0
ca. 36 Euro 2012

MAKING OF VIDEO

FEMINIST APP




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Odette, 25, 11, 11// 86
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond


Kateryna, 14, 02, 12 // 176
110 x 110 cm
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Teresa, 07, 01, 11 // 44
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond



Manon, 12, 01, 12// 124
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond



Concetta, 12, 07, 11// 176
110 x 130 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond



Hannah, 06, 08, 11 // 40
110 x 130 cm
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Matilda 03, 11, 11// 38
110 x 110 cm
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Faith, 25, 09, 11 // 116
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

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Julia 03, 11, 11// 38
110 x 110 cm
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Barbro, 06, 12, 11// 116
110 x 110 cm
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Hedda, 25, 12, 11// 48
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

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Samantha, 29, 09, 11 //152
110 x 170 cm C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

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Loreen, 12, 3, 12// 36
110 x 110 cm
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Hilde, 04, 2, 12// 34
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond



Medea, 09, 03, 12// 42
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

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Miyu,  28, 2, 12 // 152
110 x 110 cm
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Maria , 1, 01, 12 //34
110 x 120 cm
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Michelle, 04, 01, 12 // 128
110 x 150 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

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Misaki, 08, 01, 12 // 40
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

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Jolanta  , 25, 01, 12 //40
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

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Kristina, 13, 03, 12 // 156
110 x 170 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond
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Rebekka, 19, 6, 11 // 44
110 x 110 cm
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Kim, 28, 2, 12 // 48
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

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Vivien, 05, 03, 12 //  34
110 x 125 cm
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Kateryna, 14, 02, 12 // 176
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond
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Tamar, 04, 12, 11 // 34
110 x 110 cm
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Imke, 31, 01, 12 // 176
110 x 110 cm
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Ruth, 20, 07, 11 // 116
110 x 110 cm
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Nicole, 30, 09, 11 // 36
110 x 110 cm
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Sienna , 25, 07, 11 // 34
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

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Maya, 08, 09, 11 //152
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

 


Acknowledgements:
thanks are due to Olaf Val, who provided valuable support not only in technical matters; Rebecca Keim for the illusory mask (Loreen, Delphine, Dominique,Kim, Rosalie, Shadie and Maria)




babara
In FEMINIST, Catrine Val records situations whose very banality lends them the archetypical character of myths of thecommonplace. Her photographs, which are composed with the same care as paintings and are just about always attractively framed, are the complete opposite of snapshots. They bear the past within themselves—as something that has been survived, left behind, taken leave of. In these images, clothes are worn in a radically anti-modish manner. This is to say that the photographs do not present a perfect moment in which time is forgotten. They do not have that beauty which fashion may exude at that moment when it is at the peak of its power; rather, the garments here are outdated, definitely out of fashion and passé. They occupy that point in time just before the moment when one has forgotten the fashion of yesteryear, i.e. before they can be recycled and again become all the rage or be seen as totally trendy vintage wear. Rarely has anyone dressed themselves with such evident care in order to look so quirkily unfashionable.


Victoria, 12, 06, 11 // 38
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond


The person depicted has absolutely nothing to do with the here and now. In this case, fashion functions as a "tiger's leap" (Tigersprung) into the past, as Walter Benjamin once so aptly put it; however, it is not that the past is brought back to life, but rather the very fact that it is over, its radically outmoded "feel" and the sense that it is gone forever are forcibly brought to our attention. These clothes do not bring the past alive or into the present. Rather, they conjure up the sense of the bygone. For this reason, the person depicted on the photograph usually seems utterly out of place, incongruous, inappropriate, shoehorned into absurd geometric correspondences. The clothes may be an allegory for this carefully "fitted" incongruous inappropriateness, although these almost never have to be made to fit the person shown in the picture. The figure in these selfportraits does not have a place anywhere; her time is not the present, and the moment depicted is an impossibility. In a very literal sense, Catrine Val invests herself in others: she puts on her own children's clothes or those of old ladies who have, with heavy heart, handed over their best garments to a thrift shop. She dispossesses her own body, which she then turns into a stage for the self-fashioning of others. This makes her into a self-stranger. She gathers the trophies of past styles.

Freyja, 03, 01, 12 // 40
110 x 170 cm C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond


Her body turns up like an alien presence and often appears absurdly out of place in the typical scenarios that are cited in her congealed visual language. The result is an unsettling simultaneity of things that do not belong together, resulting in a somewhat surreal effect. But this surreal, unreal, absurd feeling does not wind reality up a notch; rather, it disturbs and dislocates. Or the medium that yields a momentary image is taken ad absurdum, when, for example, a figure floating above the ground implies that gravity is miraculously in abeyance, yet as a memento of the impossibility of such weightlessness, building blocks weighing hundreds of pounds are carried in the hands as if they were feather-light. One constitutive feature of Surrealism—the uncertain dividing line between the animate and inanimate, between a doll and a human being—can be seen in Val's photo on page 2. We have seen the image cited here so often and in such endless variations that it has become an icon of modern times: a female athlete after a training session alone with her body on a sports field with its red sand track.


Kirsten, 17, 02, 12 // 34
110 x 130 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond


This heroic iconomaticism, whose aim is to express nothing more than the incarnated will to achieve, is oddly distorted in this image. The blue bathrobe, which is much too small, is entirely alien to the functionality of sports clothes. It reminds us of the bathrobes we once wore as children. In addition, the woman we see here apparently lacks a lower half—although she has supposedly just been running on her legs. Her skin glistening with sweat and the very natural, candid hands stand in peculiar contrast to her crotch, which is visible through the undersized bathrobe and is covered by tights with stitching up the centre—a reference to the mannequins utilised by Surrealists. This back and forth between doll and woman can also be seen in a portrait in which the artist made up her face like a theatrical mask that looks as though she could take off and put on just like a blonde plastic wig. The glossy pinkish-coloured lips pick up the shiny surface of the patent leather of the same colour. The unseeing gaze of the glassy eyes sparkling between star-like lashes might also suggest that we are looking at a doll if it were not for the beauty spot as the punctum of the image. Located on the narrow strip of skin that can be seen between the upper and lower parts of the dress, which are held together by curtain rings in a way reminiscent of some of Courrèges' creations, this beauty spot is a sign of the times.


Rosalie, 13, 03, 12 // 176
110 x 170 cm C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond


The cave scenario, which might easily have originated in a natural history museum of the past century, immediately reveals itself as a piece of theatrical staging; one can see the barriers around the display. The women sitting by the fire is utterly out of place thanks to her yellow polka-dot outfit with matching rucksack and highlighted hair: she is evidently neither a Stone Age person beyond the pale of fashion nor a woman of today, but can rather be definitely dated to a particular moment and a specific look that is now completely passé. In mourning clothes, swaying the hem and ruching of her dress, Baudelaire's passante comes towards the viewer not as part of a crowd but alone out of a dark tunnel. Although the entire picture is lent rhythm by its black-and-white contrasts that might seem to suggest formal integration and unity, the scrupulously careful, touchingly childish and grotesque manner of dress of the person with its solemn, almost priest-like black, carefully ironed frills and lily-white gloves and freshly whitened shoes stands in striking contrast to the unspecific, rather shabby, prosaic tunnel, located somewhere that could be anywhere, like so many scenes in city landscapes of Modernist art. God only knows how the woman ended up there. As a weird-looking variety artist who might have stepped out of a picture by Toulouse-Lautrec, with dazzling lace and bizarre little hat like a sort of baby doll, she draws open the cheaply sewn curtain of a stage whose battered edge could also do with repainting.

As Little Red Riding Hood in the forest, as Little Rose of the Heath, we see her in a romantic landscape amid rose-tinted mists. The rising or setting sun is reflected in the water. It is so pretty that it might be a wallpaper landscape. However, in this landscape, a locus amoenus with a lake and feathery trees that imbue it with a touch of Watteau's Embarkation for Cythera, we see not just the usual Venus whose timelessly beautiful limbs.comprise a majestic extension of the landscape. In this picture, the woman and the landscape do not blend harmoniously to present a moment of eternity.


Xenia, 14, 02, 12 // 42
110 x 170 cm C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond


On the edge of the lake, a girl wearing a bonnet and overcoat is gazing bashfully downwards at the ground; she looks as though she has been "stood up", an absurd wallflower who appears to be clinging to what looks like one of those monstrously ugly bags from the Seventies. Her heels have sunk into the meadow; she might be about to take root. One can only see the cheap silver straps. No trace of harmony or self-reflection. Revealing a fashion-consciousness that is utterly inappropriate, her clothes do not signal a perfect moment but rather, they jolt any sense of timelessness into a senseless past that was never anything but passé. The idea that femininity is the idiosyncratic deformation of correspondences is, in formal terms, perhaps most clearly depicted in the photograph of a classroom empty except for the artist.

The room, which has been tidied up with fussy care, comprises a space almost clinically ordered using horizontals and verticals: square tiles, a blackboard with lines and squares, and the alignment of tables and chairs conform to the pattern. All in cool, neutral colours. The androgynous artist—hair like early David Bowie—is sitting on a pupil's chair with her face in profile. Her T-shirt with gold glitter and her cheap golden court shoes decorated with little bows stand out like sore thumbs. Her pants with the Burberry tartan pattern are inappropriate and unfitting in every sense, as they are far, far too small; children's pants that might be worn by a young schoolgirl. At first glance, it looks as though they have been taken down and are preventing the child-woman / young lad from sitting down properly. The Burberry tartan of the pants picks up the pattern that is the guiding compositional element while also distorting it anamorphically. The rectilinearity of the room is knocked off-balance. It would be hard to be "out of line" in a more appropriately inappropriate way. Correspondences cannot be more geometrically distorted without the whole thing breaking down completely. It would be impossible to assimilate more unassimilable material.


Nicole, 30, 09, 11 // 176
110 x 170 cm C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

 

annie

FEMINIST hovers between the realms of fashion and performance, critique and joke. Throughout this photographic series, Catrine Val transforms herself again and again through the assistance of often cobbled-together, yet thrilling, disguises. Construction is at the forefront of this work. Construction is purposefully evident in the meticulous process of Val's transformation; furthermore, the construct, the artificial so to speak, is unraveled in each and every portrait. The palpable elements of dress, props and backdrops are dazzling to the eye, but often out of reach. The presence of the artist is something more ethereal, supported by Val's quizzical facial expressions and the emphasis on the act of creating an image and a commodity. In one large portrait, Val poses on the carpeted floor of a shop stocked with household goods. At first glance such a position is classically sexual, something akin to Manet's Olympia or a classic pin-up model.

Dominique 04, 02, 12 // 34
110 x 170 cm


However, in considering the surroundings, the stacks of pans, funnels and casserole dishes, sex seems trivial. Propped on one arm, right foot slightly raised so that her shoe is nearly falling off, Val coyly strokes a small handheld meat slicer. The presence of the utilitarian slicer interrupts a scene full of accessories for creating a traditionally warm and traditionally female sphere. The constructed nature of this image, however, reveals to a greater extent Val's interest in the awkward intersections between everyday spaces and the romanticized world of fashion and femininity. How might a contemporary woman, who is also a contemporary consumer, reconcile these disjunctions? And furthermore, is Val a prop to accentuate the household items, colorful and plasticine, or vice-versa?

The elaborate staging of her work, and the wealth of motifs and poses, results in endearingly haphazard depictions of the contradictions of 21st century womanhood. What is evident in this work, and underscored by its sheer volume, is Val's curiosity in the world of objects. The image of Val and her engagement (and often lack thereof) with her surroundings speak to a notso- new obsession with what can be touched, owned and even manipulated. Following in the syntax FEMINIST, Val's image and her work is in itself a kind of brand. What we see (she transforms from one meticulous crafted identity and scenario to another) is the transference of identity to commodity. Objects here function to both distort and render her surroundings as an image of mediated consumerism.


Janka, 14, 02, 12 // 42
110 x 170 cm C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond




There seems to be an outside force dictating Val's portrayals, as if she were a doll in a life-size playhouse. This element of omniscient control has the effect of infantilizing the artist, as she appears at once innocent and sexualized. The artist's image and body follow a controlled repertoire plucked from the world of advertising, but it is also used as a kind of malleable canvas (think of Valie Export, Cindy Sherman and recently Nikki S. Lee). This friction shows another layer in Val's images from which she highlights the underpinnings of a constructed image. Sometimes, as with an image in a Turkish dress shop in which her hand made dress is literally coming apart at the seams, Val highlights the nonsensical gravity of image. In this case, Val's young daughter made the dress, but Val poses for the camera with such vigor, she might as well be a mannequin in a shop window. In other portraits Val seems to have stumbled into the scene, (a wig shop, a backyard or city park, an airport terminal), yet confronts the camera with selfconfidence and a matching outfit that forces the viewer to take the entire scenario seriously.

The backdrops also follow a role and repertoire and act as a stage setting. Place is not important if it does not emphasize and accentuate the image of the subject. The anonymous environments, thus take on a similarly interchangeable quality of the artist and function as an intersection for reality and fantasy. There are indeed inklings of history occasionally creeping into the frame in the form of a building façade or street corner, but the specificity of this history is unclear. Instead Val chooses locations that are wiped clean for of a purpose beyond display. Val stands atop a pile of old furniture and boxes on a street corner, and we wonder what are the boundaries between the city and the set piece. This environment seems incapable of asserting a distinct identity that can outshine Val's stylistic intervention.


Shadie 25, 08, 11 //  0
110 x 170 cm
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In post-war West Germany where Val was born and raised, the abundance of serialized architecture represented the future: the physical rebuilding of a society and the growing wealth of the economy. Occasionally, a small picture of this idealized exterior world enters the frame. In one such image Val wears a bucket on her head, which strategically matches the window frame of an anonymous post-war home. In the moments where architecture is unique, Val creates a scene that nevertheless turns eye-catching structures into simple props. So is the case in a park scattered with regal vases. Val perches herself atop one, with the winter sun creating a kind of halo around her bent torso and bounces off an accompanying disco ball. Is this element of staging indeed the contemporary world for the marketable woman (the artist, mother and image- maker)?


In contrast to the glamour of many of her outdoor scenes, inside Val surrounds herself with piles of disposable things. In another image Val introduces elements of the cinematic, but Val nevertheless continues with her visual choice to undermine easy representations of beauty and style. Wearing a blonde pageboy wig, a patterned dress and yellow dishwashing gloves, Val gazes to the side in front of a butcher shop display case. The lighting from the back illuminates her delicate pose, the back of her hair, but her expression is distant and insecure. Is it possible to appear modern, stylish and intentional in a shop full of hanging sausages, cold cuts and liverwurst? This image is unique in the series. Val is aware, as always of the camera's presence and the photographic moment, yet here she shirks a direct engagement with the camera. When such a direct encounter is absent so too is the prominence of her body and her image and thus the background and the scenario come into clearer focus. This particular interior space might speak to a certain era or stratum in German society, but it is Val's presence that animates these signifiers and prompts the viewer to consider the present relevance of such environs in an image-dominated world. While it is important to mention the use of photography as the method of presentation, a viewer should also take into consideration the photograph as one of the final steps in Val's artistic production. Val's photographic performances may take hours to construct, yet they are destined intended for that singular moment when the photograph is taken. In her dress, concept and design Val is both performing and experiencing the process of image making. The work travels from the physical world of props and settings to a less easily defined space when we, i.e. the viewer, encounter her advertisement again and again.



Grace, 09, 02, 12 // 42
110 x 110 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond




dd

Statement Catrine Val
Our times are afflicted by a flood of narcissism and an obsessive cult of self-expression. Fashion and the way it is presented in the media increasingly govern our everyday lives. They have altered the way we regard youth and age, beauty and character, our own selves and femininity. Modern life has become far removed from anything resembling authenticity or truth. Slick packaging, empty formulae and masquerades. Along with the assurance that one is doing what others are also doing, because fashion is always changing anyway yet always comes back again to its point of reference. FEMINIST is, for a change, most definitely not about presenting the human image with a whiff of eroticism. The wig shifts outer appearance into the realms of abstraction. Frozen, loved, felt, inhaled, composed and performed, FEMINIST freewheels with surprising abruptness from one identity pattern to another. Frozen in a pose, the subject matter presents and projects itself with great assurance as a formal, sculptural drawing. No large team of assistants was involved off-stage. Completely at liberty and spontaneously ad-lib, without any fixed plan. Every scene is deeply rooted in provincial German post-war architecture, and the plots unfolded in the intimacy of family situations as in a doll's house, at the dinner table. Countless wigs, items of clothing and pairs of shoes were the base station.

FEMINIST is most definitely not merely post-feminist self-adulation set in a private microcosm; rather, it functions entirely in line with Jean-Paul Sartre's assertion that man is condemned to be free and has to reinvent himself as a human being every day. FEMINIST's role as a template is only of secondary importance. The endless reproduction of woman and her edgy efforts to present herself anew daily unmask the battle for supremacy between authenticity and theatricality. She moves in utopian realms, but she sometimes also reaches for the stars.
Phenomenists, that what we are.

 


Ingrid, 15, 2 12 // 44
110 x 150 cm
C-Print | Acryl | Alu-Dibond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








 



































































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