Kunsthalle Mannheim reveals great gender irony by Sarah Lucas | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

So raucht nur ein Cowboy. Mit aggressiv geschürzten Lippen, gebleckten Zähnen und die Kippe lässig im Mundwinkel. Als hätte der Marlboro Man vergessen, dass sie dort noch glimmt. Obwohl das Gesicht dazu fehlt, scheint beim Anblick der wächsernen, fleischig rot durchgefärbten Mundpartie eines gleich klar: Eine Frau raucht anders. Eher so wie die Diven in alten Hollywood-Filmen oder die Supermodels, die der begnadete Fotograf Peter Lindbergh Ende des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts als „Smoking Women“ abgelichtet hat – glamourös, lasziv, emanzipiert. Und doch heißt der Cowboy Sarah Lucas.

Die 1962 in London geborene Bildhauerin, die in den Neunzigerjahren als eine der sogenannten Young British Artists international bekannt wurde und 2015 bei der Biennale von Venedig den Pavillon ihres Landes bespielte, hat für die kaum zehn Zentimeter hohe Kleinstplastik ihren eigenen Mund abgeformt. Derzeit gehört das Objekt zu den ansonsten sehr viel raumfüllenderen Exponaten der von Luisa Heese kuratierten Ausstellung „Sense of Human“, die in der Kunsthalle Mannheim Lucas’ Werk auffächert.

Wo wird das noch enden?

„Where does it all end?“ lautet der assoziative Titel des Mund-Stücks, dessen betont rustikale Art der Ausführung ein wenig an den Erstling eines angehenden Zahntechnikers denken lässt, mit dem Lucas aber die geschlechtsspezifische Attribuierung der Zigarette als Klischee entlarvt. Entstanden ist es 1994, in einer Zeit also, als Rauchen noch so salonfähig war wie die Auffassung, dass es männliche und weibliche Formen des Rauchens gibt. Beides ist heute Geschichte. Überkommene Rollenzuschreibungen zu hinterfragen, ist trotzdem ein noch immer berechtigtes künstlerisches Anliegen. Zumal die Ironie, mit der Lucas dies tut, in diesem Zusammenhang selten ist.

Sie zeigte sich 1996 in der Pose des Manspreading, als es den Begriff noch gar nicht gab: Sarah Lucas, „Self-Portrait with Fried Eggs“
She appeared within the manspreading pose in 1996, when the time period didn’t even exist: Sarah Lucas, “Self-Portrait with Fried Eggs”Sadie Coles HQ

She calls the figures for which she stuffs nylon tights with wool “Bunnies” and which she has now various so usually that they’ve turn into signature works. Accordingly, there are quite a few of them on the tour by way of three massive exhibition rooms. They are headless and boneless, however apparently feminine beings. For they generally have as many voluptuous breasts as historical fertility goddesses. By provocatively holding these out to their viewers, they make simply as clear a suggestion as with their unfold legs. Their provocative poses, which serve under-complex male fantasies, and the high-heeled footwear during which their toes are generally caught, are harking back to the Playboy protagonists to whom their identify alludes. In distinction, nevertheless, are their sausage-like figures and their out-of-shape contours.

The identical applies to the bunnies who undermine the thought of ​​”sex sells” by lounging round on a vibrant yellow roadster, as for those who have been at a automotive exhibition moderately than a museum. The central set up is prone to rapidly turn into a favourite of tourists to the artwork gallery. Over the years, counterparts with masculine traits have been added, exhibiting off monstrous excesses of male efficiency. The solely distinction is that the tender type of the textile materials is now hardened in bronze and polished to a excessive gloss like a Brancusi sculpture. Conditioned on this means, it’s tough to have a look at zeppelins floating beneath the ceiling with an unbiased eye. In trendy instances, their form initially brings to thoughts bombs. In the context of Sarah Lucas' gender theme, nevertheless, one additionally acknowledges a phallus within the plane and wonders what a hand connected to it, transferring rhythmically up and down, is doing there. Just waving?

As a photographer, Sarah Lucas additionally thinks bodily and turns herself right into a sculpture in her pictures. The motif that stands out is that of the artist sporting a T-shirt and denims, sitting on an armchair together with her legs aside, whereas a fried egg is positioned on every of her breasts. It will not be with out motive that this dryly humorous recreation with formally related however very in a different way connotated, properly, “things” from 1996 might be Lucas' hottest {photograph} and has misplaced none of its reputation in at present's beauty-obsessed world. The truth {that a} lady additionally took the freedom of demonstrating what is supposed by manspreading earlier than the time period was even identified can also be spectacular.

The man of the yr seems goblin-like

Meanwhile, numerous penises in a wall-wide all-over {photograph} are unmatched by way of explicitness. On the one hand. On the opposite hand, they seem small and summary in such numbers. Almost like goblins. “Hunk of the Year”, however, is about male muscle flexing. To obtain this, the artist needed to do nothing greater than blow up a yellow press web page exhibiting the scantily clad candidates for “Man of the Year” to the scale of a wall. Any additional creative commentary on the ridiculousness of this staging is superfluous. But maybe the battle of the sexes is being over-hyped anyway. That is definitely what plucked chickens and salmon as placeholders for feminine and male genitals recommend.

The finest time for the intellectually and imaginatively-inventive physique artwork that Lucas has been producing for 3 many years could be right here. The lack of seriousness with which she poses critical questions may significantly lighten the bitter gender debates of at present.

Sarah Lucas. Sense of Human. Kunsthalle Mannheim; till October 20. The catalogue prices 32 euros.