Where ghost and shadows mingle — As lovers, lost when single.
Solo Show at RaumStation
2.11. - 25.11.2019

"Where ghost and shadows mingle — As lovers, lost when single." is the most recent of three chapters of a queer historiography on the writer Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972), which was conceived as a long-term research project. In early 20th-century Paris, Barney regularly held salons at which a circle of artists came together, cultivating friendships, love and working relationships among themselves.

This circle also included Nadine Hwang - lawyer, ex-colonel of the Chinese army and cross-dresser. She* visited Barney's salon in the 1930s before their paths diverged in the course of the Second World War: Natalie Clifford Barney resided in fascist Italy, while Nadine Hwang was deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in May 1944 under unexplained circumstances. The video Ohne Titel (Bücher; Flurstücke 313, 314, 317, 318, 103/2, 109) follows the fragile tracks of Nadine Hwang. It collects scattered references to Hwang in the comprehensive literature on Barney's love and working life and visits those parcels of land in northern Brandenburg, where today there is not much left of the barracks where until 1945 forced laborers for Siemens were housed. Nadine Hwang's story, however, remains spectral and incomplete.

In the backyard of her former residential building stands to this day Le Temple de L´Amitié, at the time the central symbolic point of reference for Barney and her companions. While it appears time and again in lesbian films, books and stories, the temple is now inaccessible to the public. Based on literary descriptions, historical photographs and various shots from films, the video animation 20 rue Jacob sets out on an imaginative exploration of the hidden backyard and it's temple of friendship.

In half-light, through fragmented projections, overlapping times and unfinished stories, the presentation at RaumStation spins fragile pink threads in the footsteps of Nadine Hwang and Nathalie Clifford Barney. Contrary to the bright spotlights with which "gossipy biographies and memoirs" (S. Benstock) scandalously reduce the circle of friends in the Paris salons to an excessive sex life, the exhibition provides a stage for shadows rich of reminiscences. Opaqueness is fruitful ground for queer (her)stories, enabling complicated re-readings and the concern that yesterday continues to trouble today and tomorrow.

Curated by Ines Kleesattel in collaboration with Max Heinrich and Helvetia Leal. With kind support of the Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts of the Zurich University of the Arts.

Photos by Helvetia Leal