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PhD Project of Wiebke Schwarzhans

Working title:

Artificial Surfaces of Attack. Feminist Perspectives on the Ambivalence of Fashion Phenomena in Contemporary Art

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Hanne Loreck, Prof. Jeanne Faust

Two layers become interlaced in the research process of my artistic-scientific PhD project: (1) The theoretical-scientific part, Artificial Surfaces of Attack, constitutes the first level, in the form of a thesis-oriented analysis of fashion phenomena in selected artistic works, drawing on feminist theories of fashion, consumption, and subjectivity. The artistic practice complements the analytical-discursive approach of the theoretical part, in terms of a sensorial-experiential mode of knowledge production. The realization of projects based on artistic research constitutes as the second layer of my PhD project, for instance, in the form of the video performance Le modèle optique.

The PhD project is situated in the fields of art and art theory and draws on the work of feminist fashion theorists, feminist theories of consumption, psychoanalytic theories of subjectivity as well as gender and queer studies. Informed by a feminist perspective, the main focus of my project lies on ambivalent representations of fashion phenomena in contemporary art. I understand references to fashion, which occur in artistic works, as “fashion phenomena”: for example, allusions to fashion magazines, fashion campaigns and their aesthetics as well as fashionable clothing (vestimentary artifacts), as a form of reference to aspects of “look” and “style.” The citation of fashion phenomena in artistic productions has undergone an enormous upsurge in recent years. At the same time, this causes confusion between the disciplines or is perceived as commercial complicity and thus also as a target of critique:

The PhD project is organized into three main analytical threads:

  1. On the basis of exemplary analyses, the following question is raised: How do modern and contemporary artistic works reflect and/or transform the ambivalence of fashion phenomena – and concomitantly also of consumer culture, gender, and desire under capitalism? And, how do artistic works render these fashion phenomena productive for an emancipatory visual politics, at best?
  2. A critical study of questions of style makes it possible to regard fashion as a potential site for political expression since socio-political positionings can be expressed and also appropriated via clothing, hair styling, and accessories (along various axes of social categories of difference, for instance, across gender and class boundaries but also in the form of “cultural appropriation”). What remains to be discussed is which meanings are produced by references to fashion styles in artistic works.
  3. The “artificial surfaces of attack” are understood as points of contact for discourses of feminist theory. Critical re-readings will enable the actualization of feminist and gender theoretical approaches and take into consideration implicit gender politics in the relation between applied and fine arts.

Thus, the PhD project will contribute to the critical study of contemporary art in its entanglement with questions of fashion and gender theory, from a perspective of artistic-scientific research.

The artistic component of the PhD project, Le modèle optique, examines the construction of reality, subjectivity, and gender, via the medium video, on the basis of mirroring reflections, optical illusions, fashion(able) bodies, and questions of virtual reality. The video performance interlaces a physical experimental set-up, referring to the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, with the aesthetic visual politics of current fashion campaigns, in a performative reenactment. In times of pervasive digitalization, our everyday lives are shaped by the reflective glass surfaces of displays and screens, by virtual worlds, and, hence, potentially also by new, virtual relations to one’s self. I understand the video performance Le modèle optique as an inquiry into these phenomena and into the repercussions these phenomena entail for subjects, also concerning their corporeality. The practical artistic work enables the visual-political displacement of viewpoints and of established orders of perception, not only on a theoretical level but also on the level of sensorial perception.

Vita:

Wiebke Schwarzhans (*1985 in Münster, Germany) lives and works in Hamburg (Germany). She studied Fine Arts and Art Theory as well as Psychology and Gender Studies in Hamburg and Vienna (Austria). Since 2016 she has been working on her practice- and theory-based PhD project, with the working title “Artifizielle Angriffsflächen. Feministische Perspektiven auf die Ambivalenz von Modephänomenen in der zeitgenössischen Kunst [Artificial Surfaces of Attack. Feminist Perspectives on the Ambivalence of Fashion Phenomena in Contemporary Art].” Her PhD project is supervised by Prof. Dr. Hanne Loreck and Prof. Jeanne Faust, at the HFBK Hamburg. She has been a member of the curatorial team for the exhibition series “Folgendes” since 2013. In this function, she regularly organizes and moderates artist talks and edited the “Folgendes” publication Bewegungsformen (published by Materialverlag in 2016). The main areas of her artistic and theoretical research include: mirroring and surface phenomena, psychoanalysis, feminist theories, fashion theory, and fashion-based forms of articulation. She works project-oriented and across media. Currently, she is exploring the likeness of porcelain to accessories as well as porcelain’s materiality, testing its fragile boundaries. She holds a full PhD scholarship by the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation.

Contact: info@wiebkeschwarzhans.de

Jahresausstellung 2021: Studio Konzeptionelles Design (Prof. Ralph Sommer)

Jahresausstellung 2021: Studio Konzeptionelles Design (Prof. Ralph Sommer)

Annual Exhibition 2022 at the HFBK

After last year's digital edition, the 2022 annual exhibition at the HFBK Hamburg will once again take place with an audience. From 11-13 February, students from all departments will present their artistic work in the building at Lerchenfeld, Wartenau 15 and the newly opened Atelierhaus.

Annette Wehrmann, photography from the series Blumensprengungen, 1991-95; photo: Ort des Gegen e.V., VG-Bild Kunst Bonn

Annette Wehrmann, photography from the series Blumensprengungen, 1991-95; photo: Ort des Gegen e.V., VG-Bild Kunst Bonn

Conference: Counter-Monuments and Para-Monuments.

The international conference at HFBK Hamburg on December 2-4, 2021 – jointly conceived by Nora Sternfeld and Michaela Melián –, is dedicated to the history of artistic counter-monuments and forms of protest, discusses aesthetics of memory and historical manifestations in public space, and asks about para-monuments for the present.

23 Fragen des Institutional Questionaire, grafisch umgesetzt von Ran Altamirano auf den Türgläsern der HFBK Hamburg zur Jahresausstellung 2021; photo: Charlotte Spiegelfeld

23 Fragen des Institutional Questionaire, grafisch umgesetzt von Ran Altamirano auf den Türgläsern der HFBK Hamburg zur Jahresausstellung 2021; photo: Charlotte Spiegelfeld

Diversity

Who speaks? Who paints which motif? Who is shown, who is not? Questions of identity politics play an important role in art and thus also at the HFBK Hamburg. In the current issue, the university's own Lerchenfeld magazine highlights university structures as well as student initiatives that deal with diversity and identity.

Grafik: Tim Ballaschke

Grafik: Tim Ballaschke

Start of semester

After three semesters of hybrid teaching under pandemic conditions, we are finally about to start another semester of presence. We welcome all new students and teachers at the HFBK Hamburg and cordially invite you to the opening of the academic year 2020/21, which this year will be accompanied by a guest lecture by ruangrupa.

Graphic design: Sam Kim, picture in the background: Sofia Mascate, photo: Marie-Theres Böhmker

Graphic design: Sam Kim, picture in the background: Sofia Mascate, photo: Marie-Theres Böhmker

Graduate Show 2021: All Good Things Come to an End

From September 24 to 26, the more than 150 Bachelor's and Master's graduates of the class of 2020/21 will present their final projects as part of the Graduate Show at the HFBK Hamburg. We would like to thank all visitors and participants.

photo: Klaus Frahm

photo: Klaus Frahm

Summer Break

The HFBK Hamburg is in the lecture-free period, many students and teachers are on summer vacation, art institutions have summer break. This is a good opportunity to read and see a variety of things:

ASA Open Studio 2019, Karolinenstraße 2a, Haus 5; photo: Matthew Muir

ASA Open Studio 2019, Karolinenstraße 2a, Haus 5; photo: Matthew Muir

Live und in Farbe: die ASA Open Studios im Juni 2021

Since 2010, the HFBK has organised the international exchange programme Art School Alliance. It enables HFBK students to spend a semester abroad at renowned partner universities and, vice versa, invites international art students to the HFBK. At the end of their stay in Hamburg, the students exhibit their work in the Open Studios in Karolinenstraße, which are now open again to the art-interested public.

Studiengruppe Prof. Dr. Anja Steidinger, Was animiert uns?, 2021, Mediathek der HFBK Hamburg, Filmstill

Studiengruppe Prof. Dr. Anja Steidinger, Was animiert uns?, 2021, Mediathek der HFBK Hamburg, Filmstill

Unlearning: Wartenau Assemblies

The art education professors Nora Sternfeld and Anja Steidinger initiated the format "Wartenau Assemblies". It oscillates between art, education, research and activism. Complementing this open space for action, there is now a dedicated website that accompanies the discourses, conversations and events.

Ausstellungsansicht "Schule der Folgenlosigkeit. Übungen für ein anderes Leben" im Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; photo: Maximilian Schwarzmann

Ausstellungsansicht "Schule der Folgenlosigkeit. Übungen für ein anderes Leben" im Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg; photo: Maximilian Schwarzmann

School of No Consequences

Everyone is talking about consequences: The consequences of climate change, the Corona pandemic or digitalization. Friedrich von Borries (professor of design theory), on the other hand, is dedicated to consequence-free design. In “School of No Consequences. Exercises for a New Life” at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, he links collection objects with a "self-learning room" set up especially for the exhibition in such a way that a new perspective on "sustainability" emerges and supposedly universally valid ideas of a "proper life" are questioned.

Annual Exhibition 2021 at the HFBK

Annual exhibition a bit different: From February 12- 14, 2021 students at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts, together with their professors, had developed a variety of presentations on different communication channels. The formats ranged from streamed live performances to video programs, radio broadcasts, a telephone hotline, online conferences, and a web store for editions. In addition, isolated interventions could be discovered in the outdoor space of the HFBK and in the city.

Public Information Day 2021

How do I become an art student? How does the application process work? Can I also study to become a teacher at the HFBK? These and other questions about studying art were answered by professors, students and staff at the HFBK during the Public Information Day on February 13, 2021. In addition, there will be an appointment specifically for English-speaking prospective students on February 23 at 2 pm.

Katja Pilipenko

Katja Pilipenko

Semestereröffnung und Hiscox-Preisverleihung 2020

On the evening of November 4, the HFBK celebrated the opening of the academic year 2020/21 as well as the awarding of the Hiscox Art Prize in a livestream - offline with enough distance and yet together online.

Exhibition Transparencies with works by Elena Crijnen, Annika Faescke, Svenja Frank, Francis Kussatz, Anne Meerpohl, Elisa Nessler, Julia Nordholz, Florentine Pahl, Cristina Rüesch, Janka Schubert, Wiebke Schwarzhans, Rosa Thiemer, Lea van Hall. Organized by Prof. Verena Issel and Fabian Hesse; photo: Screenshot

Exhibition Transparencies with works by Elena Crijnen, Annika Faescke, Svenja Frank, Francis Kussatz, Anne Meerpohl, Elisa Nessler, Julia Nordholz, Florentine Pahl, Cristina Rüesch, Janka Schubert, Wiebke Schwarzhans, Rosa Thiemer, Lea van Hall. Organized by Prof. Verena Issel and Fabian Hesse; photo: Screenshot

Teaching Art Online at the HFBK

How the university brings together its artistic interdisciplinary study structure with digital formats and their possibilities.

Alltagsrealität oder Klischee?; photo: Tim Albrecht

Alltagsrealität oder Klischee?; photo: Tim Albrecht

HFBK Graduate Survey

Studying art - and what comes next? The clichéd images stand their ground: Those who have studied art either become taxi drivers, work in a bar or marry rich. But only very few people could really live from art – especially in times of global crises. The HFBK Hamburg wanted to know more about this and commissioned the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Hamburg to conduct a broad-based survey of its graduates from the last 15 years.

Ausstellung Social Design, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Teilansicht; photo: MKG Hamburg

Ausstellung Social Design, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Teilansicht; photo: MKG Hamburg

How political is Social Design?

Social Design, as its own claim is often formulated, wants to address social grievances and ideally change them. Therefore, it sees itself as critical of society – and at the same time optimizes the existing. So what is the political dimension of Social Design – is it a motor for change or does it contribute to stabilizing and normalizing existing injustices?