Crosswise in Space. Hannah Villiger's Large-Scale Photographic Installations 1993-1995

Aïcha Revellat

Between 1993 and 1995, immediately prior to Hannah Villiger's (1951-1997) last phase of work, she created a series of multipart C-prints, which show fragmented bodies enlarged and joined together into new, amorphous structures against an opaque white or black background. These bodies appear to be crosswise to the world: they do not orient themselves along established and standardized norms and, according to the hypothesis of this essay, destabilize the orientation of the viewer. Using some examples from this short phase of her work, it will be shown that Villiger's work at the intersection of photography, sculpture, and performance can be understood as a queer practice, distorting and making strange the body’s form. "Queer" is understood here, based on Sarah Ahmed's Queer Phenomenology, as the way in which subjects physically occupy space in an environment that does not accommodate all bodies equally.[1] Ahmed cites Merleau-Ponty, who speaks not of queerness, but of "disorienting moments" in phenomenological perception. According to him, this does not only refer to "the intellectual experience of disorder", but also includes "the vital experience of giddiness and nausea, which is the awareness of our contingency, and the horror with which it fills us".[2] While for Merleau-Ponty, these moments must be overcome by straightening one's own body, Ahmed sees them as a potential for a changed perspective: "But if we stay with such moments then we might achieve a different orientation toward them; such moments may be the source of vitality as well as giddiness. We might even find joy and excitement in the horror".[3] Hannah Villiger's installations from 1993-1995 embody such queer moments. What seems crucial here is that their genesis is also based on queerings - both medial and conceptual.

> vollständiger Essay inklusive Bildmaterial und Quellenangaben unter (englisch)