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The Artist = A Work Of Art, 17.02 – 29.04, MOCAK

Published on April 10, 2012 by: in: Culture

Berlin is one of the most interesting cities when it comes to art. Not only does it attract niche artists from all around the Europe by providing fantastic working conditions and the possibility of unrestricted creating, but also, most importantly, it creates opportunities of actual associating with the talent of specific people. What is more, applied methods of popularization truly impinge on Germans. The art exhibition by Eva & Adele, which is devoted to their concept of living art will be on display from February 17th in MOCAK. Here, in Poland, the artists would be more likely to be perceived, in the best case scenario, as gender freedom fighters. In the worst case scenario, they would have trouble with undisturbed walking down the street, because of openly demonstrated hostility. In Germany, on the other hand, their activity was given a page-long note in the religious education course book. They were supposed to be an example for students to reflect upon the other ways of living happily. They were presented as different but equal model.

Eva and Adele’s lives are not easy, though. I don’t have problems connected with the lack of acceptance for their image, sex or relationship in mind. Their personal lives require strong discipline and self-organization. The ceremonial of making perfect make-up and carefully picking outfits (they have two identical copies of each costume – in different sizes) lasts over 3 hours! There’s little space for private sphere. Eva & Adele epitomize their art themselves and that’s why there is no possibility of seeing them on the street without complete outfit or full make-up. Yet, it is because of their determination that they are ubiquitous in the world of art – for over 20 years they have been showing up at the most important festivals, biennales and exhibitions. However, not as artists, nor ordinary spectators, but as walking, not ordered by anyone products. This is what their performance is all about. Wearing ultra feminine, fancy creations of their own design, with strong make-up and heads shaved bald, they saunter around art galleries. They were shocking, causing sensation and arising interest. Sometimes artists were accusing them of “stealing their show” but it has to be given to them, that the idea itself, hard work and consistency have marked their position in the world of art. Symbolic, yet with clear style – it’s a wonder that nobody has yet ventured for a variation to place Eva & Adele on one of the Bruegel paintings or as pink spots on some impressionist canvas…

photo: C-Monster

photo: C-Monster

As far as I’m concerned I’d say that intransigence and totality are those words that best describe their living art, on which, during presented exhibition, focuses MOCAK. We can look at amateur photos of artists (taken by their fans), their costumes, copies of pink mirrors, in front of which they do their everyday make-up or copies of their notes which exactly say how and when wear given costumes. Exhibition takes up the subject from the performance perspective. It lacks, however, the material art made by Eva and Adele, which is their main source of income. I’m aware that, on the one hand, MOCAK wanted to focus on the idea of promoting openness and tolerance towards transsexual people, which is really needed in Poland (the invitation of MP Anna Grodzka to co-author the catalog, which accompanies the exhibition, proves that), but on the other hand, is the lack of presenting at least a few of their paintings (which often have the form of futuristic projections, very autobiographic) another form of labeling? I think that, those works would make a nice completion, as they contain – just like their authors – many contradictions. They are diverse and fraught with tension. They combine the strength and delicacy, bold eroticism and pastel colors which evoke the image of a child’s world.

Of course, I don’t scorn the fact that Eva & Adele are gender-fighters. Their mutual career has begun in 1991 with their acted out wedding, which they performed (wearing marvelous dresses of their own design, of course) in Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin.  This event has started the battle for the right to enter into legal marriage. Eva, being a biological man, has long applied for a sex change operation, which was connected with the necessity of getting various medical assessments and continuous walking from court to court. When she managed to prove her rights – Eve and Adele could finally get homosexual marriage. Some would call it lunacy and unnecessary complicating of life, as they would deal with the problem much quicker and easier if they had decided for the traditional wedding, especially that Eva makes use of the constitutional decision by the German court from 2011, which gives transsexuals the possibility of legally changing sex without the necessity to change the body. Physically, for the artists, nothing has changed. They could get legal marriage earlier or do not take any apart from their 1991 performance and live just like many present couples – taking for nothing legal instructions. However, they decided for an uncompromising fight until they have reached their aim. Their fight was symbolic. Through their persistence they set a good example, not only for homo- but also for transsexuals, how to live in harmony with oneself, avoiding hypocrisy.

Eva & Adele’s main slogan is “Wherever we are – there’s a museum”. It is not said in defiance to dissociate from social labels. They want their fans and audience to associate them with the world of high art. The idea for mobile museum brings to mind Marcel Duchamp and his boîte-en-valise. Through the aspect of “mobility”, Duchamp wanted to draw attention of art institutes to increasing movement of works of art, and thus call into question the significance of originality of artistic works.  What Eva & Adele criticize is the typical perception of their art by the audience. By walking out to people, they awake their interest and rise demand for their personas. Being a walking work of art is what makes up for daily devotions, they agreed to, when choosing their path.

Translation: Piotr Gmitrowicz

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About Martyna Biernacka

Graduate of the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the Jagiellonian University. She specializes in anthropology of organization, social taboos and medical anthropology, a fan of handcraft, Asian cuisine and everything connected with Ukraine.

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