Hannah Wilke, Hello Boys, 1975, © Marsie, Emanuelle, Damon and Andrew Scharlatt/VAGA, NY and Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Hannah Wilke (*1940 †1993, USA) began her artistic career as a successful sculptor of vaginal objects made of ceramics and latex. She later turned to other media, such as performance, photography and video, while continuing to explore female sexual organs and naked bodies. She not only exhibited her own body, for which she was criticized by some feminists, she also studied themes of the body’s decay, such as her mother’s mastectomy and her own battle with cancer, which she lost in 1993.
Hello Boys documents a performance at the Gallery Gerald Piltzer in Paris. Seen through the glass of a large fish tank, Wilke, nude, performs a repertoire of studied erotic gestures to the accompaniment of rock music. Entrapped in her fish bowl, on display behind glass, she is both subject and object. Suggesting the iconic female figure of a mermaid, with its ambiguous implications of sexual power and powerlessness, Wilke explores the representation of female sexuality and the male gaze.
Copyright VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2012
Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York