Skip to content. Skip to navigation
Verein zur Förderung von Medienvielfalt und freier Berichterstattung

ausreißer - die grazer wandzeitung

You are here: Home online-ausreisser the problem with beauty

ausgabe #78. prosa. barbara philipp

the problem with beauty

the place of longing is located in me

Mount Novalak is talking to me. It tells me about the beauty of its mountainous ridges,unseen valleys and stretches of land. Nobody seems to live on this mountain. Is it a hostile territory?
I do not have this impression, on the contrary: those areas, covered by a white liquid, invite me to stay, even if it is only for a glance, and even if this remaining does not involve a removal of distance. This equal, liquid snow digs into crenations and junctions and searches its way to the deepest canyons, which I would like to explore.
I want to put my feet on this mountainous ridge, to feel and touch the ground. And in my dream, in which I step on it, the ground is moving and wakes up like a stretching animal. An animal which lives undetected under the contour lines.
All of a sudden there is a woman facing me. But I do not see either her face, or her silhouette. It is not possible for me to get a clear picture, only her skin is visible to me. As a consequence I follow the marbling of the mysterious ground level, which transfixes me. In each junction I discover a new universe. It is a dive into a fantasy world where no stumbling block is in front of me.
I feel myself, suddenly, far away from the beauty canon which settled down in the back of my head, with the constant stream of coded media images and news.
In spite of my resistance these images seep through the source of my being and erode the ground of the exuberant desire to live.

mount novalak. shira richter

Mount Novalak made by the feminist artist and activist Shira Richter, from the photo series The Mother, the Daughter and The Holy Spirit, 180 x 120 cm.

The ideal of beauty, which is not mine, functions like a corset in which I try to fit in. In which I suffocate, because this narrowness cages me and makes me loose my breath. I notice the shortness of breath only at the last minute, when I'm already struggling for oxygen.
While I am living in my body I forget with a single breath that I did know already the beauty of age. That I have already admired the tracks which were traced. Why did I negate this knowledge of the lived beauty? Do we still talk about it in society? Most of all the art scene bans age, family and birth giving from the (working) policy. The label of an emerging artist has almost an eternal use, if you remain within flexible work conditions and do not claim an emotionally engaged relation with others.
What muzzled me? My own motherhood?
Age and motherhood are not an appreciated couple.
However, the sensation of suffering is allowed to be represented in art. But the gendered identification with suffering resembles a mouse trap. Quickly the trap snaps, without mercy.
The woman, whom I recognised in my dream, is once again one last stage before disappearing. The work of Mount Novalak, made by the feminist artist and activist Shira Richter, remains.

Mount Novalak is a woman´s body which gave birth. The body as a visible volume emerges tactile and humorously to the outside world. Is this allowed? Yes, it is. Skin thinning, cracks in the organic tissues, varices, cuts. I can hardly see them elsewhere within this incredible ease. Nowhere. Only on the top of the Mount Novalak. And in other images of Shira Richter´s  photo series.

And what did actually await me as a mother?
I am still a convinced feminist and artist, with children.
And Shira Richter´s work shows me that I cannot carry myself without a body, that without its existence, I cannot be heard as an artist, a woman, a feminist and a mother. It    makes me understand: “taking my place” is essential. Also because we are many, but we do not know each other.

Barbara Philipp

Read on Shira Richter...

Text auf Deutsch...

« October 2023 »
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31

Powered by Plone, the Open Source Content Management System