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Lorenza Böttner. Requiem for the normLa Virreina Centre de la Imatge
Image: Lorenza Böttner
This is the first international monographic exhibition dedicated to the work of Lorenza Böttner, an artist who painted with her feet and mouth and who used photography, drawing and public performance as ways of building herself a body, both politically and vitally, and to defend her right to exist freely against repression and the institutionalism to which transgender and functionally diverse bodies are subjected.
Born as Ernst Lorenz Böttner in 1959 into a German family living in Chile, she suffered an accident when she was eight years old which resulted in the loss of both her arms. Educated in Germany, Lorenz was institutionalised together with the so-called “thalidomide children” (born with limb deformities as a result of the side effects of this sleep-inducing drug in the foetus) and was treated as “disabled”. Defying medical diagnosis and social expectations, Lorenz decided to study in the Kassel School of Art and Design and began painting and doing public performances, incarnating a feminine identity under the name of Lorenza Böttner. In the 1980s, she actively participated in the Disabled Artists Network alongside Sandra Aronson, and defended the existence of a genealogy of handless artists who worked with their mouth and feet.
Lorenza Böttner’s work is one of the sharpest criticisms against the processes of de-subjectivation, decapacitation, desexualisation, institutionalisation and invisibilisation to which transgender and functionally diverse bodies are subjected. Covering several forms of action, including painting, drawing, photography and performance, Lorenza’s work today is an ode to body and gender dissidence.
The exhibition, co-produced with the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, is being held in La Virreina Centre de la Imatge owing to the importance that Barcelona held in the artist’s life. Lorenza Böttner moved to the city in the 1980s, where she established links with many local artists and became the living embodiment of Petra, the mascot of the Paralympic Games, designed by Mariscal. After extensively travelling around Europe and North America, drawing and performing, Lorenza died in 1994 at 33 years of age following AIDS-related complications.
Following a first small exhibition of her work in Documenta 14 in Kassel, this is the most complete exhibition of Lorenza Böttner’s work held to date; an irreverent and dynamic showcase of the rights of transgender and functionally diverse people, and a journey into the unique, remarkable work of an artist who is destined to become a classic of the 20th century.
The project includes a publication of theoretical texts written by Paul B. Preciado, Jack Halberstam, Carl Fischer, Rosemarie Garland-Thompson and Antonio Centeno, among others, and a public programme specifically conceived by the curator for this exhibition.
This project is co-produced by the La Virreina Centre de la Imatge and the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart.WEBlavirreina