Billy and Board
Fashion, religion and style politics
In Eva Hettmer's work Billboards (2013), a series of installational, multi-dimensional kitsch iconic sign boards, the viewer becomes a spectator and the public openly admits to its dark side by turning into voyeuristic stalkers, partly hidden behind the art work as an interface of todays everyday pop culture and its consumerism.
What is the work all about? The series is set in wooden framed iconic cases which on the one hand mirror a set-up for traditional painting canvasses and on the other hand their polygon shape also allows classical sculptural associations. The icons and images created within the frames are foil covered über-kitsch relicts of 20th century couture titans which still haunt us today: each art work presents itself as the stylistic alter-ego of a meta couture creator such as Jimmy Choo, John Galliano, Diane von Fürstenberg, Karl Lagerfeld, Victor and Rolf. Each icon or sign carries the alter reality of a freely associated style political concept: thus Jimmy Choo is represented in a glittery mirror-faceted foil, which is pasted in rhine stones, a cut-out sea horse and an angry pink unicorn, while Diane von Fürstenberg is set in a semi-transparent glitteringunderwater world which rotates around a starfish and Karl Lagerfeld is set in a self-repetitive gorgeous glitter foil, covered with glued-in transparent image left-overs, framed by a visible wooden, stapled frame-repeating dear Coco allover?
The Billboards are nevertheless not only mere illustrations of consumer and popular culture but rather symbolic enhancements, the work is closely related to and might be seen as a contemporary attempt to cleverly play-off Lacan's "La relation d'objet"! Hettmer outsmarts the symbolic order, producing changes in the subjective position into which she lures the viewing public, thus changing their symbolic perspective and re-structuring an imagined imaginary which her visual language aims at. She belies the expected repetition and therefore takes her audience beyond the pleasure principle.
The kitsch she applied and the found footage she uses in her work - beginning with the outcrying title "Billboards"- are nonetheless far from empty repetitions of 20th century post-eclectic style politics. The billboards are iconic show cases which beautifully confute strategies of assumption, assignation and allocation. How would it be possible to assign a minute piece as labelled board of post-modern fashion statements? Impossible and outrageous. Lovable. Adorable. Just as the pink bunny set in polygon of cheap artificial turf which is the alter-ego of Victor and Rolf? Yes. The artificiality of style politics is deconstructed here to a deducing narrowness of clearly understanding its consumerist outreach and capitalist necessity. While other kitsch artists in the late 20th and early 21th century were all easily drawn into the traps and incorporated into the fashion industry (beginning with Jeff Koons to Beth Ditto).
Ruby Sircar, 2014
(on a work 'Superface')
These paintings are like female rappers
Hettmer's paintings depict her understanding of the female orgasm. She portrays a very private and intimate moment resulting from sexual stimulation through either a partner or on one's own in a comfortable, intimate environment. Hettmer focuses her work on the connection between the sexual and the intimate, seeing the moment of orgasm as an act of pleasure, love, self/understanding and enjoyment of the here and now. The context of *'failure' results from the artist's reflection on 'bad painting'. She is addressing the fact throughout history works produced by female artists have very often been (mis)inter-preted and have received different recognition to that of artworks created by their male counterparts. Her paintings also acknowledge that it is still not socially acceptable, 'even after Carrie and Samantha Jones', for girls & women to talk openly about their orgasm in everyday conversation, in contrast we are confronted daily with male doodles of genitalia. In these feminist paintings, the artist confronts the viewer with sweet, spontaneous, sensual 'female' pink paintings which attempt to break down these clichés.
Ilona Braun, 2016
(on a work 'supercalifragilistic')