Friederike Pezold, Die neue leibhaftige Zeichensprache, 1973-77
Friederike Pezold
Die neue leibhaftige Zeichensprache

Friederike Pezold (*1945, Austria) studied art and psychology in Munich. She developed her artistic career as a painter, photographer, filmmaker and video artist. Her interest in body art was fuelled by the use of video, whose technology allows her to stand in front of and behind the camera at the same time, as both the subject and object of the work. This lets her deconstruct the traditional scheme of female model and male painter. In the mid-70s Pezold made several video installations, including Mad- ame Cucumatz I (1975), in which she recycled images from Die neue leibhaftige Zeichensprache to re-create a sort of female totem of five monitors stacked on top of each other. In her approaches toward the image of femininity in other cultures and religions, the artist questions the way in which images are constructed and the symbolic processes adopted by them.

Friederike Pezold performs a meditative work in six parts, in which she inscribes images of her body equally divided into six regions: the genitals (Schamwerk), chest (Brustwerk), thighs (Schenkelwerk), arms (Armwerk), eyes (Augenwerk) and mouth (Mundwerk). Her body is painted white, and several geometric elements, which are painted black, stand out on certain areas, creating a striking contrast of shapes and light intensities. She has two circles on her nipples, a triangle on her vulva, her mouth is equally painted in black and white, as is part of her thighs. Each fragment fully occupies the screen as if viewed through a magnifying glass – the reduced forms creating an effect of abstraction. The female body is trans- formed into minimal graphical signs and is thus released from an erotic and alien- ating reading. Light, slow movements of different body parts create a serene pace that invites the quiet contemplation of a vivid sign language

Courtesy Friederike Pezold, with permission from Wulf Herzogenrath, editor and initiator of the project

video, black and white, silent, 55:22 min

Issue date

abstraction, fragmentation, language