normal love

K8 Hardy– video and performance artist, LTTR editor, among many other identities probably too numerous to mention–has a studio here at UnionDocs. She’s arranged for a presentation here of the following project from Berlin. There will be some really interesting work discussed, so come by tomorrow night.normallove1

exhibition künstlerhaus bethanien berlin

Purchase Order

curated by renate lorenz, in collaboration with pauline boudry

The point of departure for the exhibition were the photographs and texts of the »maid of all work« Hannah Cullwick, who lived in Victorian London.

Hannah Cullwick not only cleaned from early in the morning until late at night in various households, she also produced a series of remarkable staged photographs, numerous diaries, and letters. She was very proud of her »masculinity«, of her strength, and her fetishes, her muscles, her dirt and her big, red hands.


Her portraits and self-portraits, which show her not only as a domestic servant, but also in »class drag« or »ethnic drag«, were part of a sado-masochistic relationship that Hannah Cullwick was involved in with Arthur Munby, a bourgeois man. Interestingly, it was elements of her hard work in the household that provided the material for their SM scenes.

Building on this connection between sex and labor, »normal love« looks at the role of sexuality in how power functions within the field of work. The exhibition asks whether the crossing of social hierarchies of class, gender, and race that Hannah Cullwick staged and that she so obviously desired have today become generalized into a paradoxical requirement. How are we interpellated or addressed in the field of work? What role does sexuality play in the »voluntary« taking on of long workdays or hierarchically organized »places«? What happens if these places are mobilized and crossed? How can they be reworked or »queered«? The contributions by the participating artists do not refer back to power, but rather show an »engagement with power« (Muñoz).

with: hannah cullwick und/and laura aguilar, oreet ashery, pauline boudry, alexandra croitoru, ines doujak, ghazel, kai kaljo, deborah kelly/ tina fiveash, stefan hayn, klub zwei (simone bader, jo schmeiser), ins a. kromminga, zoe leonard, marth, karin michalski/ sabina baumann, tracey moffatt, christian philipp müller, henrik olesen, adrian piper, carole roussopoulos/ delphine seyrig, runa islam, del lagrace volcano, gillian wearing.