With Heidi Bucher (* 1923 Winterthur † 1993 Brunnen, Switzerland), Haus der Kunst is presenting a representative of the international neo-avant-gardes to rediscover, whose latex works explore the constraints and liberation processes of human forms of existence. "Methamorphoses" sheds light on the multifaceted and at times poetic interplay of the covering and uncovering of bodies and architecture with ritual latex skinning, which exposes an embedding in both social and private power structures, while at the time subjecting them to mutability.
From Bucher’s initial fascination with an interplay between art and fashion, wearable genderless body sculptures emerged already in California in the early 1970s, celebrating her significant concept of sculpture between performance and object. She was dedicated to a critical subversion of normative gender roles from the very beginning; her processual material transformations also elude traditional media categories.
After her return from the USA in the mid-1970s, Bucher’s main body of work began with "Borg" (1974–78), the emancipatory gesture of the latex skinning of her own artist’s studio in the morbid storage room of a former butcher’s shop. In her parents’ house as well, she applied liquid rubber to the surfaces of the so-called "Herrenzimmer" (Smoking Room, 1978–79) in order to, with the subsequent skinning, metaphorically liberate herself from the patriarchal family structure. In the Munich exhibition, all the various sites of her artistic work are presented for the first time, many of them private, but also equally important public settings such as Ludwig Binswanger’s Bellevue psychiatric clinic on Lake Constance. There, she skinned the "Parlour Office of Doctor Binswanger" (1988), where Sigmund Freud visited his first subject of his case study on hysteria. Using works such as "The Hatching of the Parquet Dragonfly" (1983) and "Dragonfly Lust" (Costume) (1976), the metamorphosis through the pleated wall skins ‘embalmed’ in mother-of-pearl is symbolised as an act of self-empowerment over social norms, role attributions, and repressive clichés of ‘femininity’.
The retrospective features over 150 works, as well as previously unknown film and archive material that reveals the strong performative quality of her work. In the exhibition catalogue, Bucher will be questioned in the context of feminist and cross-media artistic practice in international art historiography on the basis of scholarly text contributions, source material on historical exhibition participations and artist relationships such as those with Anna Oppermann, Louise Bourgeois, and Maria Lassnig, her own poems and other previously unpublished texts.
Curated by Jana Baumann
Curatorial assistance: Luisa Seipp