From February 23 until May 5, 2019, the Württembergischer Kunstverein
presents the first monographic exhibition dedicated to the work of Lorenza Böttner (Punta Arenas, Chile, 1959 Munich, Germany, 1994). Curated by philosopher, curator and transgender activist Paul B. Preciado, this project is co-produced with La Virreina Centre de la Imatge in Barcelona, shown until February 3, 2019. In Stuttgart, the exhibition will be presented in extended form and with a manifold of additional works.
The work of Böttner, an artist who painted with her feet and mouth and who used photography, drawing, dance, installation and performance as means of aesthetic expression, defies processes of desubjectivation and desexualisation, internment and invisibilisation to which transgender and functionally diverse bodies are subjected.
Born as Ernst Lorenz Böttner in 1959 into a German family living in Chile, he suffered an accident when he was eight years old, which resulted in the loss of both his arms. Educated in Germany, where he moved with his mother after the accident, Lorenz was institutionalised together with the so-called contergan 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. He rejected the prosthetic arms that would supposedly have rehabilitated his body into one deemed normal, going against the medical diagnosis and social expectations that promised her a future of social inclusion as a disabled person. In 1978, she started her studies at the Gesamthochschule Kassel (today the Kunsthochschule Kassel), changing her name to Lorenza Böttner, and further developing her artistic practice of drawing and painting through the incorporation of dance and performance into the process of pictorial production. Here, one of her first large-scale works was created, a large self-portrait using her own footprints. Another focal point during her 16-year period as an artist was photography. At the core of her work was about constant transition / transformation and it constitutes an ode to bodily and gender dissent.
In the 1980s, she actively participated in the Disabled Artists Network and critically engaged with the history of representation of handless artists who worked with their mouth and feet. She devoted her master thesis in Kassel to this topic as much as the crucial examination of the history of the freak shows. At the end of the decade, she moved to Barcelona where she established links with many of the citys artists. That was how, in 1992, she became and embodied Petra, the Paralympic Games mascot designed by Javier Mariscal. After a series of trips to the United States and Europe, continuing to work as an artist, she died in Munich following AIDS-related complications. Her work was preserved for decades by her mother.
Following a first small exhibition of her work in documenta 14 in Kassel, this is the most complete exhibition of Lorenza Böttners work held to date; It presents drawings, pastels, oil paintings as much as a documentations of her performances and her life. Further exhibits are materials around the life of Lorenza as well as her studies around the freak shows and other physically diverse artists such as Frida Kahlo, Thomas Schweitzer, Louis Steinkogler, Django Reinhardt's or Aimée Rapin, all from the private archive. The exhibition is 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: as an indispensable contribution to the criticism of the normalization of the body and of the social gender.