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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Claudia Reinhardt


Claudia Reinhardt was born in Germany in 1964. As an artist Reinhardt works with photography, video and text. Her images are mostly strictly staged and narrative and she often uses herself as the model. Before she became an artist she worked as a freelance fashion and advertising photographer. From 1988-93 she studied at the School of the Arts (Hochschule für bildende Künste) in Hamburg with Professor B.J. Blume. During this time she founded the art magazine Neid (Envy) with Ina Wudtke. Until 1996 she worked as co-editor of Neid , and wrote texts and took photos on the subject of feminist gender issues for Neid and other publications. Thanks to a DAAD fellowship and a fellowship from the city of Hamburg, she spent a year in the U.S. in 1996/97. She lived in Los Angeles and New York and traveled in Mexico. Since 2000 Claudia Reinhardt has held the postion of Associate Professor at the National Art Academie in Bergen, Norway. She has lived and worked as an artist in Berlin since 1997. Her works have been shown in several group and solo exhibitions in Germany and abroad. Two books of her art work have been published in German and English: Killing Me Softly-Todesarten (Berlin: Aviva Verlag, 2004) and No Place Like Home (Berlin: Verbrecher Verlag, 2005).

Reinhardt was a featured artist in Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum, curated by Maura Reilly and Linda Nochlin.

Feminist Artist Statement

For several reasons it is not easy for me to compose a feminist artist statement. First, the term “feminism” is nowadays used in many different contexts and with different intentions and has, therefore, become quite loose. We do not have one common sense anymore when we use that term (and maybe we never had a common meaning), which makes the whole discussion difficult, but also exciting. In light of this, I have to speak from my point of view, from my understanding and involvement, and leave the meta-discussion of feminism beside for a moment.

When I started to work as an artist I was concerned with issues of identity and gender. At that time I worked with these matters without having the environment and background of a theoretical or academic discourse. I experimented and played around with different images of female identity by using myself as the model, without having a critical consciousness of what I was doing. For me it was ‘natural’ to deal with my identity, which is an identity as a white female, living in a western, heteronormative society – a fact that irritated and confused me enough at that time. It was (and still is) obvious to me that I am interested in women’s history, lives, works, opinions and expressions of all kinds - because I belong to that group and identify with them, whether I want to or not (and I can say that I do want and like it). I was always conscious that I can never speak from no other standpoint but my own. From this experience (which sounds easy and natural to achieve, but is not), I worked to claim that this point of view (on society, life, art and politics)—should be heard and can achieve influence and importance. Besides the sustained and urgent fight for larger political goals of equal rights and anti-discrimination, I want, simply, to focus on individual histories and experiences of women. Through this subjective approach, of using personal material or biographical elements and referring consciously to private histories and memories, I want to oppose the dominance of male culture and politics. Feminism (and now I do mean to utilize a general proposition) should mean to critically reconsider and deconstruct the binary organization of our culture which causes racism and sexism. This can be done in many different ways and practices.

—Claudia Reinhardt, 2007

<p>“Sylvia” from the series “Killing Me Softly”</p>

“Sylvia” from the series “Killing Me Softly”

Sylvia Plath, 1932–1963, American writer, is considered one of the most important female authors of the 20th century. She placed her head inside a gas oven after leaving a farewell note for the nanny.

“Sylvia” from the series “Killing Me Softly”

Sylvia Plath, 1932–1963, American writer, is considered one of the most important female authors of the 20th century. She placed her head inside a gas oven after leaving a farewell note for the nanny.

“Diane” from the series “killing Me Softly”

Diane Arbus, 1923—1971, American photographer, slit her wrists in the bathtub of her studio. There is a persistent legend that she photographed her own death.

“Ingeborg” from the series “Killing Me Softly”

Ingeborg Bachmann, 1926 -1973, Austrian writer, burned to death in her bed after falling asleep with a lit cigarette. It is not known to this day whether it was an act of suicide or a tragic accident.

“Karin” from the serie “Killing Me Softly”

Karin Boye, 1900—1941, Swedish writer, wrote poems and two novels. She fell in love with a female German Jewish writer, with whom she experienced the rise of the Nazis, and killed herself with poison on a wooded hilltop with a valley view.

“Sarah” from the series “Killing Me Softly”

Sarah Kane, 1971 -1999, British playwright, hanged herself in the bathroom. She was only 27 years old; her plays made her famous overnight, due to the scandals they caused worldwide for their drastic depictions of violence and destruction.

“Clara” from the series “Killing Me Softly”

Clara Immerwahr, 1870–1915, German chemist and pacifist. Her husband Fritz Haber developed the poisonous gas used during World War I. Clara Immerwahr shot herself in protest and resignation with her husband’s military pistol in the backyard of their house.

Killing Me Softly - Todesarten

“Killing Me Softly - Todesarten” a book by Claudia Reinhardt. Published by: Aviva Verlag, Berlin. 102 pages, 10 color plates, 29,80 Euro.

It was the suicide of Sarah Kane which first started my preoccupation with the subject of female artists who killed themselves. Almost exactly three years ago, I staged the first photo in this series. Nine additional photos followed, all of which recreated the suicides of the female artists. I tried to imagine their last moments, how it could have been, and photographed myself in the roles of these personalities. My subjective sympathies and my interest in the work and biographies of the artists determined the selection of the particular death scenes recreated. Thus explains why the series also includes a male artist and a female scientist, breaking up an otherwise apparent continuity. What was important was the staging of these photos, not at all an authentic depiction of the act itself, but rather the personal creation of a legend, one based on bygone legends, deconstructing them and then offering a new interpretation by recounting them in my pictures. Throughout this project, a discussion and collaboration with the authors in these pages began whom I am connected to both in spirit and in friendship.—Claudia Reinhardt, January 2004

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Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are copyrighted by the contributing artists unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.