Women - Pretty to look at, but, alas!, pretty difficult to understand. This may be one of the reasons, apart from the strong erotic component, why painters, from Vermeer to Ingres, chose an observing, contemplating point of view, hidden behind their easel, spying through keyholes, in order to grasp a glimpse on women's inscrutable acting and, at last, being. Trough this separating, but invasive perspective, keeping safe distance to the objects of desire and thus eliminating the danger of being entrapped, women assumed to know and use the rules of attraction and seduction, the female body turned to be at the disposal of a dominating masculine view. Unsuspecting, innocent, absorbed in their own little universe, they were subject to men's curiosity and became famous in several masterpiece of art history. Favoured subject: Women bathing, admitting to show the unclothed bodies, the attraction heightened through oriental accessories like turbans and musical instruments. Women, presenting their body in a self-determined way and thus taking care of their privacy, were still exceptional, as the German artist Paula Modersohn-Becker painted her naked torso at the beginning of the 20th C.: Shyly but demanding, she glances at the viewer. An indecent exposure? Women's right to exhibit their bodies in art on their own measures has been negated for a long, too long time.
In her series MASTERPIECE REMAKES, the German photographer and painter Christine Prinz refers to these masterpieces and turns the tables. Flash! The setting remains, but action is transferred from the observing painters to the model, which she replaces herself in several self-portraits, updating and, maybe, correcting the masterpieces with hindsight. Christine Prinz uses a powerful instrument: The photo camera, separating the viewer and the viewed with thorough precision. Also: An excellent device for her retrieval strategy being in search of the originators of the masterpieces, the disembodied masterminds. In her REMAKE, Ingres's odalisque, mesmerising neck crowned with a turban, begins to move, strolling and watching out for a vis-à-vis, playing hide-and-seek. She emerges as developing personality from the historic background of undifferentiated models and is on par with the creator of her image, now able to create images herself. Christine Prinz opens the occasion to the protagonists to take a position, a firm, self-confident stand, instead of passively bearing being watched.
The camera, the epicentre in each photograph, is ready to catch the observer, the photo flash glaringly paralyzing the viewer, outshining, what formerly was in focus. In her adapted self-portraits, Christine Prinz appears as Susanna, following the biblical report traditionally unveiled, but now vested, as Paula, proud and fragile with flowers in hair and hand, as the Girl with the Pearl earring, the subtle erotic promise of the pearl fading in the flashlight. Many of the photographs are painted over, adding requisites, where necessary, or accentuating the resemblance with the role models, playing and provoking with perceptions of age, beauty and might. Reflections in the (rear-view) mirror, implemental for every self-portrait, become reflections on perspectives, traditional points of view and recent attempts to breach the conventional conditions, initializing and pushing the acceptance of self-determined image of the female body. Yet, there is much work to be done. Thank you for your brilliant contribution, Christine Prinz!
CHRISTINE PRINZ, born in Radebeul/Dresden, studied Painting and Graphic Arts at HfBK Dresden. A studio in 'Artist-residence Bremen', several travel-scholarships and a work-session in Madrid followed. She was awarded with the prize of the jury on the occasion of 8th International Biennale of Graphic Arts at Fredrikstad/Norway in 1986. Since then she has shown her artwork in many group and solo exhibitions in Germany and Scandinavia. The Museum Junge Kunst in Frankfurt/Oder recently showed her work, which is also to be found in the possession of several collections and museums for contemporary art in Germany, Russia, and Poland.