Tanya Leighton is delighted to announce that the Museum of Modern Art, New York has acquired Marianne Wex's Let's Take Back Our Space: 'Female' and 'Male' Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures, 1977
Born 1937, Hamburg. Lives and works in Hamburg.
Let's Take Back Our Space, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Life. A manual exhibition inspired by the work of Georges Perec, Galeria Zachęta, Warsaw, Poland
Bad Visual Systems: Ruth Buchanan, Judith Hopf, Marianne Wex, Adam Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
Nothing Will Be As Before, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Let's Take Back Our Space
Wex’s project takes the form of hundreds of collages, of different widths but uniform height, organised into separate male and female panels and displayed in parallel rows. These are rigorously subdivided according to different postures and poses, revealing how gender stereotypes percolate down to our most intimate everyday gestures. The occasional ‘exceptions’ - figures whose photos float above or below the rows - only serve to emphasise the incredible conformity discovered by Wex, from the street to the boardroom. Again and again, power differentials can be observed simply in the amount of space people feel entitled to occupy - ‘manspreading’ avant la lettre.
Speaking about her work, Wex notes that her endeavour was “based on the assumption that body language is the result of sex-oriented, patriarchal socialisation, affecting all of our ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ role behaviour.” Her discovery was that “body language and bodily ideals between sexes have become increasingly divergent.”
The resulting body of photographic collages is unique: they combine the history of street photography and the typologies of the Becher School with conceptual art imperatives, especially in their possibilities for modular recombination. ‘Let’s Take Back Our Space’ might be classified, non-exhaustively, as a feminist broadside, an encyclopedia of gesture, an ethnographic portrait of Hamburg in the 1970s, a genealogical tract on art history, a neglected classic of appropriation art and a kind of autobiography.