In some circles, Marianne Wex is famous for not being famous enough, in other circles she’s a sociological footnote, and in still other circles, she does not exist. Historical novelty is no more acceptable here than anywhere else, but every so often, some less-known work comes speaking to us so loudly that we rouse ourselves from the present torpor to plunge into the past tense.
Marianne Wex spent the early 1970s in Hamburg, Germany taking clandestine and banal photographs of men and women in public space. Then she reached out further and made photographs of advertisements, reproductions of Classical and Egyptian statuary, soft-core pornography, and stills from TV and film media, and herded all of it into categories: men standing, women standing, men sitting, women sitting, etc., and affixed those categories onto cardboard panels. These panels are not innocents. At the center of them is an argument about how we create and present ourselves, and the degree to which gender-specific conditioning and hierarchies are reflected through everyday pose, gesture, and pre-verbal communication. Though Marianne Wex’s photographic series was made explicitly for the middle of the 1970s, its fixations—self-representation and the performance of identity and gender—have not tired.
October 12–December 15, 2012
YALE UNION (YU), Portland