Annegret Soltau, Selbst, 1975 © Annegret Soltau
Annegret Soltau’s drawings, performances, photographs and videos revolve around the themes of self-awareness, motherhood, the female body, and the constricted, searching and liberating self. In her early artistic work, Soltau drew faces spun with gossamer pencil lines. Soon thereafter she switched to black yarn and spun it around herself and individual people.
Such is the case with the impressive performance entitled Selbst. Here she wraps a thin thread around her face, like a gentle touch. But soon her entire face and neck are tightly wrapped. The yarn cutting into her skin completely constricts Soltau’s head so she can neither see nor speak. It is an oppressive feeling, one that other women artists in the 1970s articulated in similar ways in the face of a conservative social order that reduces women to the role of house- wife, mother and wife. But in the penultimate photograph, Soltau cuts through the yarn, illustrating an act of liberation – and it is no coincidence that it was in 1975, the year which the UN proclaimed as International Women’s Year. In 1977, Soltau began to work on her first photo stitchings, which she continues to do to this day. Female bodies are given unexpected new identities through fragmentation, composition and stitching.
Annegret Soltau is a key exponent of the feminist avant-garde, a term coined by Gabriele Schor, director of the VERBUND COLLECTION, anchoring the pioneering work of these women artists within the canon of art history.
Artist: Annegret Soltau