The MYMOVE edition from 2019 is a further development of the monumental bronze work THEMOVE by Lena Henke, which is reminiscent of a cartoon by Tomi Ungerer. Henke, herself based in New York and Berlin, uses her work to turn the outside in and the inside out. In the exhibition from 2019, the urban space merges with the female body, while New York street signs show the way through the inner life of the artist. The gallery space becomes a psycho-geological projection that transfers the intimate to the scale of a cityscape. In a life-size self-portrait, Henke poses like a pin-up girl. In front of her crotch she holds a photo of New York’s phallic landmark – the Freedom Tower. The motif of the pin-up appears again in the large bronze gate THEMOVE, which opens the way for the visitor through the exhibition; its green and strawberry outlines are reminiscent of the character in an adult cartoon by Tomi Ungerer.
The edition version of this monumental work shows the facets of vulnerability and intimacy on a smaller scale.
In doing so, Henke combines deeply personal experiences with forms that she abstracts from the history of art and architecture. She radically appropriates the past to build narratives that empower rather than oppress. Henke combines iconic New York architecture with French cartoons, the legacy of feminist body art artists like Hannah Wilke with souvenir T-shirts, the wives of the New York mafia from the “Great Depression” era with psychoanalysis. For Henke, it’s less about fetishizing these “idols” and “heroines” than using them as materials to write her own story. “It’s about adapting, appropriating, borrowing, recycling, dissimulating, deforming, creating references, easily and/or with a crowbar, everything to create a story, (…) into something ‘own’, the text of a biography transform”, writes Jutta Koether. Henke uses her own body and biography as both object and material to critically question how masculinity implements a grid of submission into the built environment.
Steel, rubber, sand
76 x 52 x 36 cm
Edition 4 of 6
© Galerie Emanuel Layr, Vienna