Since the invention of photography more than 170 years ago it has been largely women who have used this technical medium to project themselves through role playing and masquerading. As well as the experimental urge to constantly recreate ones ego, the camera has also served as a means of calling into question clichés of female representation. Playing with the image of the eternally feminine was and remains a discourse with gender identity, its social and political definitions and reaching beyond them.
The exhibition focuses on contemporary women artists such as Cindy Sherman, Sarah Lucas, Monica Bonvicini and Pipilotti Rist, who with the aid of photography and video art investigate the female image. The artists explore the question of what image patterns the media age employs for portraying femininity and how these images determine perceptions of women. At the same time, they deconstruct by humorous, ironic and provocative means the traditional iconography of portraying women in the Western world and develop alternative images that postulate new forms of representation, which are at times aggressive and strident, at others subtle and devious.
Interest in the discourse with female imagery is not an exclusively post-modern issue. As far back as the 19th and early 20th century, women such as Countess Castiglione, the Surrealist Claude Cahun and female artists of the avant-garde discovered photography as a means of experiencing their ego in many different roles and exposing stereotype projections of femininity through masquerading. Review of history shows how contemporary women artists have followed on from their predecessors by continually returning to individual motifs and themes and extending and varying them over generations.
The exhibition >Female Trouble< provides for the first time in the German-speaking area a profound overview of the changing nature of the female image in the history of photography and video art. The approach is not encyclopaedic; instead, it concentrates on those female and male artists whose work was/is innovative and at the same time serves as a model for others. In doing so, the artistic discourse with the image of women touches on central issues concerning what basically constitutes identity and on the biological, social, cultural, political and media influences that determine the image of what is female and male.
Curated by Inka Graeve Ingelmann, Head of the Department of Photography and New Media, Pinakothek der Moderne
Appearing in collaboration with Hatje Cantz-Verlag is a generously illustrated catalogue in German with 200 illustrations and essays by internationally acclaimed women scholars like Elisabeth Bronfen and Abigail Solomon-Godeau, length 240 pages, Euro 34
A varied programme of films and lectures is complementing the exhibition. For more details: