Installation UNTER DER LATERNE    



    Unter der Laterne

Concept   In 1993 Marianne Pitzen, director of the Frauenmuseum in Bonn and Professor Annette Kuhn, art historian of the University in Bonn, start making preparations for the project Stadt der Frauen. The point of departure is the collaboration of academic staff with visual artists. The aim is to make a connection between the life and work of women in the Middle Ages and the activities of women at the present time by means of new technologies in a large exhibition.

The title of their project Stadt der Frauen alludes to the book of Christine de Pizan (1364-1430) called The City of Ladies, in which an appeal is made to all women to actively take over and construct a city of ladies in order to improve the quality of life. We can transpose the hopes, excitements and the demands for high standards and excellence to our days where we [and not only women ..] project the expectations and the questions that accompany these suppositions on the availability of new technologies.

How can a combination of former insights and recent technologies be part of a solution to the contemporary problems we are facing?

The video-registration of performance Von Märchen und Gesprenstern constitutes the heart of my installation in the Frauenmuseum in Bonn. Placed on a pedestal table in a space that is surrounded by three walls, it functions as a streetlight.
  That is why the installation is called: Unter der Laterne - a title that in the German language has more than one connotation.

The video displays the re-enactment of an ancient ritual that was performed once a year by all the women from Cologne. This registration as a core component of the installation is taken up as a treble mirror. First, there is the ceremony itself, described in a letter by Petrarca, dated August 9, 1333. Then there is the re-enactment of the ritual by way of a performance accomplished in 1992. And finally there is the fact that we can broadcast the occurrence at whatever point in actual time. Thus, we can 're-live' the event every time we read the letter of Petrarca, but also in watching the video-registration of the performance and make any combination thereof.

In order to complete the installation as a 'circle of imagination in time', I construct a skeleton of frames with spotlights that cast light towards the corners of the room, thereby throwing shadows on the walls. Apart from the radiating TV monitor no other direct artificial light is involved so that the dispersed shadows determine the atmosphere of the space. The names of eighty women - ordinary women who lived in Cologne between 1302 and 1565 - are scattered all over the floor as grains of sand. The visitor has to kneel down in order to read the names, thus engaging actively in real time/space and make a combination with the various dimensions of time that are offered.
 

Timeline   25|9 1994 - 2|4 1995
  Stadt der Frauen, installation Unter der Laterne, FrauenMuseum, Bonn (D).
Dimensions 236.2 x 196.9 x 125.6in / 600 x 500 x 319cm;
Framework 118.1 x 59.1 x 122in / 300 x 150 x 310cm;
Eighty wooden bars with plexiglas 8-15cm, each 2.5 x 3.5cm
Video on pedestal table 13.8 x 17.7 x 50.4in / 35 x 45 x 128cm.