Born in the United States in 1955, Sharon Kivland lives and works in London and Pleslin, France. Apart from her activities as an artist and curator, she also engages in theoretical investigations, both teaching art at Sheffield Hallam University and as a Research Associate at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research in London. Since 1979, she has taken part in numerous solo and group shows in Europe and North America. With L'Autre Corps, Galerie Bugdahn und Kaimer presents new works by this artist in her first solo exhibition in a German-speaking country.
The main medium in Sharon Kivland's work is colour photography. Further major areas of activity are objects - of metal, leather, cloth, glass, mirrors and so on. The two approaches may be combined; and in both, written text is often a complementary element. The works shown in the exhibition and the exhibition itself, have French names, not least as a nod of affinity to the Structuralism of a Jacques Lacan or Luce Irigaray. This also reflects the artist's working interest in language generally, a delight in puns, a fine instinct for treacherous turns of phrase. The work, Mes Tropes (2003), of five handkerchiefs embroidered with the words, 'Mes Métonymies', 'Mes Allégories', 'Mes Métaphores', etc., are markedly contemplations on language and its pictorial functions.
In the six-part work entitled le bonheur des femmes (2000), evocative words ('spellbound', 'beautiful', 'pure', etc.), are placed at eye-level and recall familiar eponymous perfumes. Arranged in pairs but hung conspicuously low are colour photographs of the lower legs and feet of women in the act of buying something in a perfumery. With such fragmentary photographs Kivland takes away the feminine figure as a sexual object. The women are fixed on the threshold to a potential wished-for identity. By pulling the viewer's gaze in divergent directions and out of its habitual one, Kivland opens insights into the deeper mechanisms of barter and imagined and real female roles.
This iridescence in the female identity between subject and object, related to the subject of art, is addressed in Mes Semblances (2003). Two photographs show male sculptors at work in a workshop, and a picture of the standard 'metre bar' in Paris. A pair of chrome-plated outside callipers, used to take measurements when working from the life, also form part of the work. It was only toward the end of the eighteenth century that the metre was introduced as a standard unit of length; prior to that, the King's body was the binding reference. The similarity (semblance) between the sculptures would suggest that the real figure of the woman who modelled for them is absent in the photograph. The void in her place opens up towards the viewer. The female body appears as a series of doubles.
In the Calendrier révolutionnaire of 2003, time, natural cycles and the individual are closely knit. Twelve photographs of burns on a person's body are named after the months of the French Revolutionary calendar. Its vivid, experiential approach to measuring time does not run from January to December, but begins with the wine month of Vendémiaire and ends with the month of fruit, Fructidor.
In her work, Sharon Kivland investigates how our lives are governed by systems of order that complement, overlap and contradict one another while undergoing periods of change continually. Spheres such as language, gender, time/space, art, philosophy, politics, nature, history, economy are involved. The focus of this approach is represented by the identity of woman and her body. The site whence sense is made of it all is palpable in the titles as the presence of an individual speaker, in the possessive pronoun, mes. The beholder, too, has a sense when wandering through the exhibition, of gaining a glimpse into a private lexicon. But the poetic basso continuo is modulated by the rich philosophical background that shimmers through again and again allusively.
Private View: Friday, July 4, 2003, 6pm - 9 pm. Exhibition to August 30, 2003.