The usage of Her Mouth and Ft, Lorenza Böttner Created an Immense Frame of Paintings


From the early days of her formative years in Chile, the transgender artist Lorenza Böttner* had a watch for attractiveness; she used to be in particular interested in birds, interested by their lightness and freedom. Someday, because the eight-year-old Lorenza used to be strolling to college, she spotted feathers falling from a nest tucked in an electrical pylon overhead. Short of to peer the hatchlings for herself, she climbed up the pylon however used to be startled by way of the surprising flight of a chicken, which led to her to fall and be seriously electrocuted. When confronted with the grim burden of now not understanding whether or not her kid would live to tell the tale the twist of fate, Böttner’s mom fought exhausting to offer her with the most productive hospital therapy to be had, arguing that if there used to be “simply an ear left on [her] frame” then it used to be price it. Lorenza lived however misplaced either one of her fingers.

In spite of the innumerable hindrances she confronted after being institutionalized for remedy in her folks’ local Germany, Böttner rejected “incapacity training” and as an alternative selected to wait artwork faculty on the Kunsthochschule Kassel. (Whilst there, she started publicly figuring out as feminine, however maintained a fluid gender id and pronouns for the remainder of her lifestyles.) Thus started her exceptional occupation as an artist, the end result of which can also be observed in her first-ever United States exhibition on the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Artwork.

Lorenza Böttner and Johannes Koch, Untitled (1983), black-and-white {photograph}, 16 x 12 inches (non-public assortment, all rights reserved)

Böttner, who made artwork the use of her mouth and toes, advanced an outstanding, multidisciplinary frame of labor that spans portray, images, efficiency artwork, drawing, and dance. An untitled pastel drawing that depicts the artist in 3 other modes of dresshangs originally of the exhibition, as though to claim her multiplicity. The leftmost Lorenza poses in a classically female, nearly Victorian taste, entire with lipstick and a painted-on attractiveness mark; on the identical time, her low-cut get dressed unearths an abundance of chest hair, a tacit refusal to evolve her frame to the binary norm. To her proper, we see the artist with lengthy, braided hair in a extra gender-neutral outfit, whilst the rightmost determine items as classically masculine, wearing a complete swimsuit and facial hair. Right here, Böttner doesn’t simply position herself on a spectrum — she is the spectrum. On this piece, gender isn’t an ossified ultimate vacation spot, neither is transness a instantly vector; Böttner turns out to insist that the self can inhabit the frame in a couple of and various techniques, none of which might be mutually unique. This is a freeing viewpoint.

Böttner herself eluded classification in apparently each and every house of her lifestyles:s She used to be observed as a German in Chile, however Chilean in Germany; her training intended that she wasn’t an interloper artist, however because of her incapacity and transness, she used to be rarely welcomed as an “insider” both. In her photograph collection Face Artwork (1983), Böttner channels the ever-influential paintings of Bernd and Hilla Becher, whose œuvre impressed a whole era of photographers to reimagine their typologies inside the context of the self. The collection paperwork Böttner shifting between identities, making an attempt on and setting out more than a few gender signifiers. She distorts her options with paint and maps out the more than a few angles of her face, demonstrating a transparent aesthetic kinship with the paintings of Janice Man, some other Becher protégée whose late-Seventies self-portraiture not too long ago made waves on the Impartial Artwork Truthful.

Set up view of “Face Artwork” (1983), thirty black-and-white images, 16 x 12 inches (every) ({photograph} by way of Kristine Eudey © 2022)

Different works within the display counsel a variety of influences, from Tom of Finland to the “Venus de Milo.” Böttner’s extra homoerotic works on paper from the Seventies make use of the spherical, sensual strains and exaggerated bodily characteristics that had been the hallmark of Finland’s illustrations. In contrast, one haunting untitled paintings from 1985 displays a crowded side road from Böttner’s viewpoint: women and men alike stare overtly on the viewer, their faces betraying expressions of wonder or even worry. The angularity and coloring of the figures recollects that of portray from Nineteen Twenties and ’30s Weimar Germany, the paintings of Otto Dix specifically. Böttner, used to being handled as a spectacle, mentioned that such consideration didn’t trouble her: “I love to open other people’s eyes and display them how silly it’s to cover at the back of a bourgeois façade,” she as soon as stated. Her 1987 efficiency because the “Venus de Milo” in New York — some of the conceptual highlights of the present display — epitomizes this manner. She asks: Why are Greek statues that experience misplaced their limbs observed as similarly, if now not extra, stunning, whilst exact human our bodies are discriminated in opposition to and driven to put on prosthetics, despite the fact that it’s in opposition to their very own needs?

Böttner used to be an enchanting, advanced determine whose lifestyles used to be tragically reduce quick in 1994 because of AIDS-related headaches. In step with her indomitable will, she persevered to make artwork till the very finish: she made one of the ultimate works within the display whilst in hospice care, drawing a portrait and a bouquet of plants in marker on sanatorium napkins. In spite of their sophisticated courting, Böttner’s mom preserved her archive after her demise, saving her from the destiny of numerous queer artists whose paintings has been misplaced to historical past or deliberately erased by way of their subsequent of family members. We’re fortunate that Lorenza Böttner’s paintings and her enduring spirit survive.

Set up view of Lorenza Böttner: Requiem for the Norm at Leslie-Lohman Museum of Artwork ({photograph} by way of Kristine Eudey © 2022 Courtesy of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Artwork)

*Even if Lorenza Böttner persevered to make use of her start identify and pronouns every so often over the process her lifestyles, this newsletter mirrors the Leslie-Lohman Museum’s resolution to seek advice from Böttner by way of her selected identify, which is a variation of the center identify she used to be given at start.

Lorenza Böttner: Requiem for the Norm continues on the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Artwork (26 Wooster Side road, Soho, New york) via August 14. The exhibition used to be curated by way of Paul B. Preciado.



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