“Female Remedy” is the first institutional exhibition by Leila Hekmat (*1981 in Los Angeles, lives and works in Berlin) and invites the artist to develop her ambitious performative practice for the specific context of the Haus am Waldsee. The exhibition marks the start of the new programme under the artistic direction of Anna Gritz. It opens as part of Berlin Art Week 2022 and is accompanied by the performance “Symptom Recital: Music for Wild Angels”.
Image above: Leila Hekmat, Triple Curly, 2020, Tryptichon still, Digital video collage, Courtesy the artist and Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi
Female Remedy is a comedy of manners that views illness as a perpetual state of mind and body. The exhibition transforms the Haus am Waldsee into a religious sanatorium for women. Hospital Hekmat functions as an institution for a disease that does not need to be cured and whose mission alone is to reinforce pre-existing insolences through comedy and absurdist antics and to promote the irrational inner life of its female patients. It is a healing place for the unrepentant woman.
The curious, mocking extravagances that circulate in this infirmary indicate a clandestine protest against the principles that prevail in other institutions. It remains unclear exactly what the admitted ladies are suffering from, but their complaints are profound and comically melodramatic. The staff of this hospital is driven by excessive charity and tries to cover up, hide and ignore all kinds of trauma. Nurses fall in love with patients, patients fall in love with each other, and soon everyone is suffering from the same delirious diseases. It is a satire about the unleashed struggle to establish a new psychic and at the same time sexual language, with which gestures, costumes and forms of behaviour attempt to create a self-image that was previously suppressed. A surrealist portrait of a hospital for women, Female Remedy looks at being sick as a gateway to self-discovery and asserts that the ever-growing industry of self-optimisation has mutated into a desperate search for survival strategies for the human psyche.
The Haus am Waldsee becomes Hospital Hekmat – equipped with hospital beds, an operating theatre, a chapel and various other treatment rooms. The exhibition leads visitors through halls with hospital-like curtains printed with digital collages and past beds housing idiosyncratic characters and depictions of the eccentric patients and their nurses.
The exhibition is accompanied by the musical performance Symptom Recital: Music for Wild Angels. In the form of a variety show with stand-up comedy and musical interludes, the adventures of this group of irreverent girls are woven into stories. Afterwards, the performance will be adapted into a multipart sound installation for the exhibition spaces.
Leila Hekmat‘s artistic practice critically examines social expectations of women. She consistently undermines supposed conventions of sex, gender and sexuality. In the tradition of the Theatre of the Absurd and Commedia dell’Arte, the artist develops performances in which elaborately handmade costumes and stage sets are used. Hekmat works interdisciplinarily and develops a hybrid style of theatre, musical, comedy, visual arts, film and performance in her works.
Hekmat has had solo exhibitions and performances including Il Matrimonio di Immacolata at Disappering Berlin (2021), The Organ Grinder’s Canto at Duddel’s, Hong Kong (2018) and The French Mistake at the Glasgow International Festival of contemporary visual art (2016). She has participated in major group exhibitions such as In the Company of, EDEN EDEN, Berlin (2022), A Fire in my Belly, Julia Stoscheck Collection, Berlin (2021), Studio Berlin, Berghain, Berlin (2020) or as part of the Tbilisi Residencies programme in Tbilisi, Georgia (2019).
Curated by: Anna Gritz
Publication: A zine by the artist with contributions by Vaginal Davis and Diamond Stingily will be published to accompany the opening of the exhibition, German/English, 36 pages.
Opening: Wednesday, 14 September 2022 from 7:30 pm
Exhibition dates: Thursday, 15 September 2022 to Sunday, 8 January 2023
Performances: Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September 2022 from 7:00 pm
Opening hours: Tue – Sun 11 – 18 h
Haus am Waldsee
Argentinische Allee 30