Feminist Avant Garde

I managed to visit this exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery shortly before it finished. I found it really interesting to see how photography was being used to make political points.


What was of particular interest to me was to see how some works of art had been appropriated to make political points. A great example of this, which really struck me, was Ulrike Rosenbach’s Art is a Criminal Action 1972/96.


The image can be seen here: http://art.daimler.com/en/artwork/ulrike-rosenbach-art-is-a-criminal-action-197296/


The Daimler Art Collection describe this image as “Rosenbach’s early photomontage is based on a photograph of Andy Warhol’s famous 1963 silkscreen painting ‘Double Elvis’. Rosenbach imitates (with Warhol’s express permission) the Warhol ›Elvis’s‹ clothes and pose, and mounts herself – at the time a completely unknown young artist – at the side of the celebrated rock star.“


I like the way in which the original image has been appropriated to make a strongly political point.

By replacing one of the original Elvis figures with an image of herself, dressed in the same way and following the same pose, Rosenbach is forcefully drawing attention to gender equality.


The title Art is a Criminal Action also subverts the original Double Elvis, perhaps by drawing attention to the violent pose of the original masculine image (the gun pointing directly at the viewer).  The Daimler’s description considers that “the attack on the territory of male art production and definition cannot be carried out with female humility, but must take on the ‘criminal’ energies of male dominance forms for a short time, and change roles”.