Klasse Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster
October 26-31, 2020
Luki von der Gracht
CONFIDENCE IS CONTAGIOUS
The graduation presentation at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with its title CONFIDENCE IS CONTAGIOUS includes works from 2010 until 2020. The exhibtion is asking questions about identity, gender, belonging and possibilities.
The exhibition title is taken from the identically named Speech Performance that the artist held on exam day in July 2020. The speech is a personal manifestation of identity search and a call for gender diversity. The artist is asking to celebrate differences instead of using them for social exclusion.
The work was then re-performed on Instagram's IGTV (@lukivondergracht) and nominated for NRW Bank Kunstpreis 2020. On a regular basis their Instagram account offers performative readings and discussions with LGBT+ identifying individuals. Luki has received the Meisterschüler-Auszeichnung from Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, which is an honorary title awarded by the class professor and the principal of Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.
The exhibition begins with a photography taken by the artist’s father. The photo taken in 1984 shows a young woman in a short white dress next to two white horses. She is surrounded by nature and is looking into the distance. The woman pauses in her movement and it seems as if the horses came to her and not the other way around. Is she seeing something or someone in the distance? What is she looking at? The photography was taken spontaneously on the summer holidays of a love couple in the South of France. The purpose of the photo was the capturing of a moment or an emotion.
Continuing with the second work of the exhibition, the here depicted images have been created with a different mindset. The work „We look at images to not be alone“ (2020) is a collaged pinboard and presents a contrast to the previous photo work as the images are not private but public ones. The pictures were not taken in a special holiday moment but they are advertising, art and fashion images, aswell as stills from film and television.
The work deals with the topics of image politics and representation of trans identity in film/television, press and advertisement. The portrayal of trans characters in the media has a long history of misrepresentation and stereotypes. What does it mean when these stories are not told and directed by the represented but by humans with more privileges and a different reality of life? What is „ownership“? How do we get influenced and manipulated by images from advertisement, film and the internet?
The history of LGBT+ movement is closely connected to the women’s right movement. With the debate „the private is political“ a new political field was opened up where it was possible to fight for equal rights. Especially intersectional feminism, which found it’s origins already in 1960s second wave feminism (but was only elaborated later on) included ethnicity, class affiliation, disabilities, trans- and non-binary identities in the debate.
„Gender is the poetry each of us makes out of the language we are taught“, Leslie Feinberg writes in their book Transgender Warriors (1971).
What is the masculine and what is the feminine? How many different ways of expressions to be a human being do we allow in 2020?
How can we expand language and include a diversity of gender expression? How can we use our own privilege to help the least privileged?
How can everyone learn and profit from this debate?
The next section is a cloud of twelve framed photo, collage and drawing works. Included in this body of work are the three larger photo works opposite. These works combine the artists thoughts of the first and second work of the exhibition and show a part of the result of their emotional, spiritual and artistic journey over the last ten years.
Titled Gallery of Possibility and Transformation, this project is a space for perspective and poetry, for doubt and frustration. This body of work consists of over 300 drawings, photos, collages, poems and lyrics and is an on-going project. The Gallery of Possibility and Transformation is a manifest of responsibility, change and healing and a place for searching, questioning, pausing and hoping.
What gives us the power to exist, to formulate, to stand up for something? That makes us to the person we are. What are we fighting for? And what do we need?
The video work Langda Lane was made in São Paulo in 2019, where the artist became friends with the singer Langda Lane. A collaboration started and the video work shows a snippet of a longer video work about the protagonist’s life in Brasil, her trans identity and the accompaning challenges. Click here to watch.
The exhibition is ending with a photography in the same scenario as the first photo work: this time it is a man in short white trousers next to a singular white horse that he touches carefully with the tips of his fingers. The depicted man is the artist’s father and the photographer of this work is the woman from the first photo work. These found and later enlarged images from 1984 encircle the other works in a tender way and thereby offer the frame work of this autobiographical exhibition on the search for the self, for confidence, belonging and existence.