The largest exhibition dedicated to the artist in over 15 years, it reflects Muzeum Susch’s founding mission to spotlight women artists and revise a matrilineal art historical canon.
Running from 4 January to 2 July 2023, Muzeum Susch presents Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me, a comprehensive survey dedicated to the Swiss artist Hannah Villiger (1951-1997) with contributions from contemporary artists Alexandra Bachzetsis (b. 1974), Lou Masduraud (b. 1990) and Manon Wertenbroek (b. 1991).
Installation views of 'Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me' at Muzeum Susch. Courtesy all images above and below: Muzeum Susch/Art Stations Foundation; photograph: Federico Sette.
One of Switzerland’s most significant women artists, Hannah Villiger’s life was abruptly cut short at age 45 by heart failure. She is best known for her large-format photographic works, combining close-ups of sometimes fragmented and abstracted body parts, addressing self-image, the body in relation to identity and the skin as an interface between inner and outer worlds.
Villiger used polaroid images, enlarged them via an internegative and mounted them on aluminium to be presented both individually and as assembled groupings in wall-size grid-like formats. Developments with social media and wider discourse on gender and self-representation has brought renewed interest and approaches to Villiger’s practice. The grid-like structure of her larger works conjure reflections on platforms such as Instagram and her self-documentation as precursors to selfies.
Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me showcases over 60 works, drawing an arc from Villiger’s black-and-white photographs created in the 1970s to polaroid images created in the 1980s and 1990s. Muzeum Susch has collaborated closely with the artist’s estate to present the breadth of Villiger's artistic practice. A number of the artist’s large photographic works and a group of works on paper are presented for first time. Also, Villiger’s lesser-known works on the built environment are included in the exhibition, such as polaroid-based works of city views, all from her work and living spaces in Paris and Basel.
Within Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me, three contemporary Swiss-based artists, Alexandra Bachzetsis, Lou Masduraud and Manon Wertenbroek, present three smaller presentations that are distributed throughout the tour of the museum, continually stimulating thoughts about cross-generational artistic strategies and approaches.
The artists have been selected based on their exploration of similar themes to those of Villiger. Bachzetsis presents This Side Up, a video installation of a performer moving in all directions in a confined space, much like the way Villiger writhes, turns and shapes her own body under the eye of her Polaroid camera. Masduraud presents Petrifying basin (kisses with the nymphs), a sculptural installation with her signature fountains and small wall objects that playfully and sensually rethink organic life and anchors mythological traditions in the present day. And finally, Wertenbroek presents a selection of objects addressing the boundaries between the skin and surrounding world.
On the exhibition and Hannah Villiger, Muzeum Susch’s founder Grażyna Kulczyk says “Female artists are no longer afraid to document their bodies being destructed due to illness or aging - often the artworks become projects showing chronicles of pain. Observing and recording their own bodies has become a form of manifesto for female artists, reclaiming the subjectivity of the body. Female artists have painted, photographed and sculpted themselves. In this way, the shame of nakedness or imperfection has often become a point of pride. Hannah Villiger, through photographs of her body, became the body‘s conscious sculptor.”
Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me at Muzeum Susch is guest curated by Madeleine Schuppli and Yasmin Afschar. The exhibition is accompanied by a monograph on the latest research on Hannah Villiger’s practice and influence. Villiger is often likened to an artist’s artist, which has inspired the editors to invite artists who knew her to contribute texts, including Katja Schenker, Beat Streuli, and Claudia and Julia Müller. The book, part of a larger series of monographs by Muzeum Susch and Skira, will be published in March 2023. Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me is made p