Installation view "Evolutionary throwback", Künstlerhaus Bethanien, 2012.
Still from video
Still from video
Video, DVD, 5 min loop. Installation view from exhibition "Evolutionary throwback" at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 2012.
Photo: David Brandt
Between Life and Death
The work of Ylva Westerlund (S)
Preservation and conservation are museum collection practices, which Ylva Westerlund discloses as regressive and questions on the one hand, while at the same time employing them for her own artistic works. These processes are supplemented by the concepts of “dead” and “alive” – which cannot really function in conjunction – as embodied in literary creatures such as Frankenstein’s monster or vampires and zombies, for example. Westerlund is fascinated by such beings. As she sees it, there is an obvious analogy between these simultaneously broken and free creatures and the post-structuralist theories of Judith Butler and Michel Foucault. In the case of Butler the philosopher, it is the paradox of overcoming performative gender roles with a simultaneous negation of categories such as man and woman. This ambivalence helps Westerlund to conceive the categories of being and non-being simultaneously and to investigate this theme in collages, mural works, videos, texts and comics. In the process, she may enter into the role of a scientist or sometimes into that of the object being studied. In the video Evolutionary throwback (2012), for example, the artist appears as a creature crossed between homo sapiens and australopithecus anamensis, performing orders such as eat, think, read and talk in front of the camera. Here, she acts as both investigating subject and object to be investigated – when in the sequence “read”, for example, she reads aloud theories of evolution from a book. Ylva Westerlund is interested in (gender-)theoretical, scientific and biological threshholds and border areas, which she believes show enormous political and, of course, artistic potential.