Chrischa Oswald

Chrischa Oswald

“I was interested in what happens if this behaviour is transferred into the human world.”


CHRISCHA OSWALD

Mother Tongue, 2013
Video still, 2-channel video installation
Courtesy the artist

The work reflects on the primary relationship, on the first bond in the life of every living being, fundamental in the construction of all subsequent social relationships: the mother/child relationship.

Chrischa Oswald performs, together with her mother, an action that is considered common among animals. On one channel the mother licks the face of her daughter, on the other channel the artist licks the face of her mother. What, in animals, is an action of hygiene or an expression of the need for social relationships, for human beings becomes both perturbing and estranging. The innocent naturalness of the feline gesture is perceived as unexpected, unacceptable, even incestuous.

The title of the work creates a play on words between ‘mother’s tongue’ and ‘mother tongue,’ ironically referring to the physicality and the fundamental educational importance of the relationship of each individual with his or her parent. The simplicity and the strength in the action set into play by Chrischa Oswald are highlighted by the characteristics of the video: black and white, static close-ups of the two faces, and the recurring repetitiveness of the licking gesture. The silence of this mutual action between mother and daughter underlines the complicity between the two subjects, and their gaze directed at the viewer is challenging and provocative.

The work does not aim to send a clear and universal message, but instead to create ambiguity and instil doubt in certainties. Oswald deals with the theme of taboo, the strict prohibition by society of certain behaviour, inspiring a reflection on the border between what we perceive naturally as inappropriate and what the behavioural codes of our society make us perceive as unnatural or, more precisely, naturally unacceptable.

Chrischa Oswald (born 1984, Germany; lives and works in Berlin) is a young artist who graduated from the University of Arts and Industrial Design, in Linz in 2011; in 2007, before graduating, she was awarded the Diesel New Art Award Austria in photography for her series, Family Bonds. Her art is mainly expressed through the medium of performance, in which she focuses, on one hand, on the intimate problems relevant to the human condition, and on the other, on the behaviour codes and the identity of the individual in relation with society as a whole. In 2007, she held a solo exhibition, Being, in the Exit-Gallery, Claire de Rouen, London. Among her most recent joint exhibitions are: in 2007, Trust me, F/Stop 1st International Festival for Photography, Leipzig – Catfi sh, Rotating Gallery, New York; in 2008, Tinyvices, NY Photo Festival, New York, – Videokollektion, ViennaBiennale 08, Vienna – Fallen/fallen, F/Stop Photo Festival, Leipzig; in 2009, Dreamers, Eikon, Aarhus; in 2010, International Departure: Gate 10, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, Modena – Deep:art, Muggia; in 2012 The Eye of the Collector, Selected works of the Manuel de Santaren Collection, Villa delle Rose (MAMbo), Bologna – Video Art-Screening, Soho House, Berlin; in 2013, Bodied Spaces, Gallery Art Claims Impulse, Berlin – 2nd OZON International Video Art Festival, Katowice – Extra-experimental trails, Festival für experimentelle Film und Videokunst, d21, Leipzig.

 




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