Miriam Cahn

Miriam Cahn

Badischer Kunstverein

Miriam Cahn, gestern abend im TV gesehen
(Part 1 of 2), 27 December 2011.

September 24, 2012

Miriam Cahn

28 September–25 November 2012

Opening: 27 September 2012, 7pm

Badischer Kunstverein
Waldstraße 3
76133 Karlsruhe, Germany


Badischer Kunstverein is pleased to present the largest exhibition in Germany to date by Swiss artist Miriam Cahn. A selection of works will be shown ranging from the late 1970s to today. Though Cahn predominately works with the format of oil painting, she also explores the mediums of drawing, performance, film, and photography. The themes found in her pictures revolve around femininity, sexuality, love, violence, or destruction.

Influenced by performance art and the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Miriam Cahn’s approach to art proves radical and unconventional. Evading the usual criteria used to classify artists, especially when it comes to her selection of working methods, Cahn pursues a tenacious interplay between her various formats, which she frequently joins together as densely constellated “clusters” in the exhibition setting.

Cahn initially delved into drawing before turning to color and oil painting in the early 1990s. She has repeatedly emphasized how drawing, with its more transient character, offers a welcome counterpole to the conventional conception of the oil painting as an autonomous, self-contained artwork shadowed by chiefly male connotations. In this respect, Cahn’s drawing practice may be considered a feminist one in that she spawned her large-format drawings with the full force of her body, crawling on hands and knees, sometimes even in the nude and with eyes closed. Movement and performance are key concepts in her art, with the body becoming the pivotal moment—not only as motif in the representations, but also as medium of its execution. As the artist proclaimed in an earlier work in interior and exterior space, “my womanhood is the public facet of myself,” and she accordingly oriented the rhythm of her work to the female cycle. Works that centered on menstruation and ovulation came to life, and pictorial motifs were divided into male and female categories.

In her approach to painting, Cahn remains faithful to the process-oriented character of drawing by initiating pictures without carefully charting the direction ahead of time, sometimes following an imaginary image or the memory of a dream. And though Cahn’s painting may be characterized as figurative, her bodies, faces, plants, and animals are never executed with attention to every detail. While some aspects of anatomy are realistically modeled, others remain sketchy or show a silhouette that spectrally disappears into an uncertain background. Not infrequently, concrete political events find expression in Cahn’s various paintings, including the wars in Beirut (1982), in Iraq (1991), or in Sarajevo (1992). Besides weapons or warships as recurring (male) motifs, her pictures also reflect aerial views of nuclear power plants or test sites, and vibrant watercolors of atomic explosions. Yet Miriam Cahn’s images are not political in the sense of illustrating topics; indeed, their political air arises from lending themselves to interpretation as the expression of a subjective sense of discomfort regarding precarious social and political affairs.

LACHEN BEI GEFAHR encompasses more than 30 years of artistic creation in the life of Miriam Cahn. Alongside her large-format chalk drawings, bright individual pictures encounter series created in oil, aquarelle, pastel, or watercolor. A separate exhibition section presents the artist’s performative and text-based works along with her filmic work in Super-8.

Supported by Pro Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council and Kultur Basel-Stadt.

With special thanks to Elizabeth Dee, New York; Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe/Berlin; Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Paris

Talks & Events

Thursday, 17 October, 7pm
Lecture by Prof. Dr. Sabine Gebhardt Fink
Performative Approaches in the Work of Miriam Cahn

Friday, 26 October, 8:30pm
Schlammpeitziger (a-musik/sonig, Cologne)

Thursday, 8 November, 7pm
Miriam Cahn
SLOT MACHINE (more than just gambling)
The artist is present.

Tuesday, 13 November, 9:15pm
Film screening attended by the director
Miriam Cahn – ohne Umwege (CH 2004, director: Edith Jud, 52 mins)
Location: studio 3, Kaiserpassage 6, 76133 Karlsruhe
In cooperation with Kinemathek Karlsruhe

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Badischer Kunstverein
September 24, 2012

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