exhibition: 19.1. – 4.3.2007

opening: donnerstag/thursday 18.1. 19h. queer guided tour 19.30-20h

curated by: renate lorenz

in cooperation with: pauline boudry, wibke straube

künstlerhaus bethanien berlin. studio 1.

mariannenplatz 2. 10997 berlin

mi – so: 14h – 19h

The point of departure for the exhibition are the photographs and texts of the »maid of all work«, Hannah Cullwick, who lived in Victorian London in the second half of the 19th century.

Hannah Cullwick not only cleaned from early in the morning until late at night in various households, she also produced a series of remarkable staged photographs, numerous diaries, and letters. She was very proud of her »masculinity«, of her strength, her muscles, and her big, dirty hands. Her portraits and self-portraits, which show her not only as a domestic servant, but also in »class drag« or »ethnic drag«, were part of a sado-masochistic relationship that Hannah Cullwick was involved in with Arthur Munby, a bourgeois man. Interestingly, it was elements of her hard work in the household that provided the material for their SM scenes. Also, Arthur Munby documented other women workers and their work through interviews and photographs, in which he particularly emphasized the attributes of masculinity: he obsessively admired the worker‘s muscles, their big hands, or their powerful builds.

Building on this connection between sex and labor, »normal love« looks at the role of sexuality in how power functions within the field of work. The exhibition asks whether the crossing of social hierarchies of class, gender, and race that Hannah Cullwick staged and that she so obviously desired have today become generalized into a paradoxical requirement. How are we addressed in the field of work? What role does sexuality play in the »voluntary« taking on of long workdays or hierarchically organized »places«? What happens if these places are crossed or: how can they be reworked or »queered«?

In conjunction with the exhibition, a catalog will appear on b_books with texts by José Esteban Muñoz and Renate Lorenz (February 2007).