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Two New York Based Artists, Andrea Geyer and Sharon Hayes, Present their Work in Switzerland
Andrea Geyer, Spiral Lands, Chapter 1, 2007.

ST. GALLEN.- Cambio de Lugar_Change of Place_Ortswechsel (2000-2002) – is the title of an early work by the two New York based artists Andrea Geyer and Sharon Hayes. In twenty-five interviews, presented as a multi channel video installation, Hayes and Geyer initiate a set of dialogues by asking women from different contexts of language, geography and culture how, and if, they identify themselves as women or have been identified as such at some point in their life. The discussions address cultural feminism and the women’s individual perception of the self in relation to gender roles. In the resulting video documentation, we do not see the interview partners, but instead their interpreters, thus subtly shifting the focus away from the answers towards the translation as a means of communication, and consequently, to the production of knowledge through a transcription from one language to another. Cambio de Lugar_Change of Place_Ortswechsel is a powerful exploration of the production of gender, cultural translations and the meaning produced, and lost, in these transactions.

Andrea Geyer (b. 1971 in Freiburg i.B) amalgamates narrative, fiction, historical data and theoretical elements in works that form poignant social commentaries. In investigating the politics of social spheres and spaces – real and imagined – Geyer investigates the fragmentation and production of contemporary identities. In recent years Geyer’s work has been shown in numerous international exhibitions, among others, at the Generali Foundation in Vienna, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and at the Tate Modern in London. With the impressive photo series Spiral Lands/Chapter 1, (2007) she stood out as one of the most exciting artists at Documenta XII. In Spiral Lands, Geyer investigates the historical dispossession of land from Native Americans by the United States in a subtle picture/text installation of black and white photographs combined by historical data, oral history, news and fictive travel reports. In reflecting on photography as medium and its’ decisive role in the “discovery myth” of the American West, Geyer forms a discriminating analysis of the relationship between identity and land and of the violent mechanisms of colonization that inform the contested narration of our global present.

Sharon Hayes (b. 1970 in Baltimore) explores the complex relationships between history, politics and the process of individual and collective awareness. In her work she researches historical parallels and reflects upon today’s social conditions, especially apparent in her gripping video work 19 Minutes of Collective Activity (2003). Inspired by language of politics and the dramaturgy of theatre, Hayes starting point for investigation can range from the rhetoric of a party-political or presidential speech to the slogans of leftist splinter groups. Through speeches, staged protests, interviews and demonstrations Hayes intervenes in public spaces in an exploration of ideologically and socially significant themes inscribed in American history. For this purpose she makes use of various artistic media such as video, installation and performance, in which journalistic reporting methods are subtly breached.

The exhibition at Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland, and Göteborgs Konsthall, Sweden, takes as a point of entry the unique collaboration between the two artists and brings together, for the first time, a wide ranging body of works by Andrea Geyer and Sharon Hayes who, in their respective oeuvres, based on a firmly feminist viewpoint, take up fundamental societal and political questions.

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