Risk HazekampStraight from Berlin
6 January - 3 February 2008Cokkie Snoei   Rotterdam

Bio Drag Queens   2007   100 x 135 cm.   analogue color photograph

Risk Hazekamp is an artist who works primarily with photography and video. In her work, the language of cinema is directly engaged. (...) In works that use the figure, disturbingly familiar clothing and landscape to deconstruct -or perhaps reconstruct- the idealised images of maleness and femaleness, Risk's earlier work often existed in a state of ambivalent "femanliness". (...)

However, in most recent works since her decision to move to Berlin, there is a notable shift. Could it be that the city's long tradition with androgyny and gender skulduggery has seeped beneath her skin? No longer are we presented with the crisp clean framing of discussions of gender in terms growing out of a traditional American or Dutch feminist gender and sexuality perspective prevalent in artistic practice by the late 1980's, itself an assimilation of earlier feminist theory on gender and sexuality. Instead, we are offered the heady scheissegal ambiguity and complexity associated with Berlin on a continuum. (...)

The most notable example of this is Hazekamp's new work "Bio Drag Queens" (2007). In it we are offered a psychology of psycho-sexual chicanery that is new. Here the out lesbians, the 'biological' (usually the given English translation for 'organic' in a supermarket produce sense) drag queens pose in the slutty make-up of boys playing at being girls. But, of course, in a twist that is very Berlin, very "Viktor und Viktoria" (1933). It's all double bluff. The imagery taps into the iconography of exceptions. We all know that men can look like women and that women can look like men, but it is with Berlin that we frequently associate even more complicated relationships between male and female. (...)

In "Bio Drag Queens", the androgynous physicality of Risk Hazekamp -the young James Dean of earlier works- is immediately that of a female coquette. And yet, the style of the make-up and the title alone speak of a discomfort or an amusement, at the very least. Risk Hazekamp and her female companion do not, we understand from the work, feel any great need to take on a societal female identity that has welled up from deep within the fibres of their physical bodies.

This tension between the biological and the social -or even aesthetic- is echoed in other new works such as "Superman". The eponymous logo stencilled onto a female chest mainlines its point about our individual body in contrast to what we feel about it or how we might actually want to look. And, interestingly for Hazekamp's artistic development, together with the other works in the new series, it does so with a more gritty, faux documentary style that we associate with both Berlin underground cultures and German art photography. If femininity -whatever that means- has still not penetrated the flesh of Risk Hazekamp, it seems that the history of her new home certainly has.

excerpts from Ken Pratt  'Risk Hazekamp - I Am Now A Mirror'
Wound issue 2, January 2008  www.woundmagazine.com

Boy Michael   2007   84 x 119 cm.   analogue color photograph


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