Souziehaas: The Eye Has To Travel (2013)

Publication for the exhibition “Souziehaas: The Eye Has To Travel”
Mindpirates, Berlin, 7/2013

Souziehaas invents and portrays extraordinary alter egos and multiple identities that question normative behavior and aesthetics. For her solo exhibition at Mindpirates Projektraum (July 5 – August 3, 2013), souziehaas has conjured her visions and artistic sensibilities and materialized them into a carefully arranged fantastic and surreal cosmos. Akin to the series of “apartment exhibitions” she realized throughout the last few years in the form of installations of her artworks in other people’s private homes, every detail and placement is meticulously thought through. The viewers find themselves immersed in her cosmos, a space bathed in bright baby blue and baby pink light, in which fabulous sculptural creatures and richly detailed installations act as autobiographical stations in the complex narrative of her role(s) as a woman in society, from cradle to grave.
In her work and attention to materials, arrangements, implied narratives and viewing context, souziehaas reshuffles aesthetic sensibilities, questions gender conventions through the use of soft and hard “feminine” textiles and colors. Among the different techniques she is using, collage and assemblage stand out.
As a noble conquest of the irrational she is coupling two realities: new perspectives taped together reveal layers of the image that lie just below its surface. Visible traces of imperfection are part of the works, just as they are an important part of life itself.
Her choice of materials – from plastic to silk and letters embroidered in gold – challenge the gender connotations they carry. Souziehaas plays with the performativity of these materials, defies their haptic expectations and orchestrates her unique vision of high and low into a dazzling Camp Gesamtkunstwerk.
“The essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. And Camp is esoteric – something of a private code, a badge of identity even, among small urban cliques,” Susan Sontag wrote in her essay Notes on “Camp”[1].
Camp is not a genre, but an aesthetic sensibility, often subversive and irreverent, that regards something as appealing or humorous because of its ridiculousness to the viewer. “Camp also allows dream and fantasy to cloud perceptions of reality just long enough for an individual to start believing the delusion before it is revealed as merely a diversion of the imagination”[2].
Life and death, vanity, the soul and the nature of representation are some of the preoccupations throughout her body of work. Souziehaas casts herself as subject matter, making each of her staged characters protagonists of an implicit narrative. Role-playing and the nature of identity, sexual and cultural stereotypes: she runs right against them, unfolds and reassembles them in order to create a new identity.
She prefers the playfulness above the seriousness. Or as Georg Baselitz stated: “Art is visceral and vulgar – it’s an eruption”. The titles chosen for her works exemplify the scope and themes she explores and also underline her particular sense of humor: the lie, ficken lieben, liebes ficken, mamamuttimamipapavatipapi, if it moves kiss it, misses vanity, etc.
The exhibition The Eye Has To Travel, titled after a statement by the iconic fashion editor Diana Vreeland, stages an intimate, almost disturbing portrait of the life of the artist souziehaas. In her work and her vibrant celebration of Camp, she explores the role of women and the implications of gender in society. Drawing from the inherent ambiguity in her own identity and body (Madonna or whore?), souziehaas challenges reductive categories not only in her artwork, but in every element of her life.



[1]          Sontag, Susan. Notes on “Camp” (1964), in: Against Interpretation and Other Essays, Picador, New York, 1966

[2]          Francis, James. Camping Out: Sexuality as Aesthetic Value in Tennessee Williams’s And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens. In: The Tennessee Williams Annual Review, 2007