Stuttering to read:
A a a
Autoto toto toto
Margaret Raspé, Automatik, 1970
In spring 2023, Haus am Waldsee will present the first comprehensive retrospective of the Berlin artist Margaret Raspé (*1933 in Breslau), who has created a significant body of artistic work in the immediate vicinity of Haus am Waldsee over the past five decades, characterised by an idiosyncratic artistic language that thinks together life, art and work in their everyday conditions. With this exhibition, the Haus am Waldsee tells a radically local art history of global relevance, in which it also sees its own position reflected.
Image above: Margaret Raspé, Alle Tage wieder – let them swing! (Collage), 1974, Super 8, colour, without sound, 20 min., film still, Courtesy the artist and Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin
The investigation of perceptual processes is central to Raspé’s work, which, in addition to important film works from the early 1970s and 80s, consists of performances, photo series, sound works and large-scale installations in both indoor and outdoor spaces. By means of ephemeral approaches that react specifically to their environment, the works consistently make lived realities the starting point of their art in order to analyse given social and societal structures.
Already in 1971, before these were industrially available, Raspé developed the so-called “camera helmet”: a construction site helmet equipped with a Super 8 camera that took up the exact central perspective of the artist’s gaze and enabled her to film her everyday life. The resulting films show the artist performing automated everyday tasks, including housework. Raspé can be seen in clinical detail whipping cream into butter in The Sadist Beats the Clearly Innocent (1971), baking a cake Backe Backe, Kuchen (1972) or washing up Alle Tage wieder – let them swing! (1974). They not only lend visibility to the often invisible, everyday tasks, but at the same time bear witness to the mostly unconscious physical processes at work. These automated actions, which the artist repeatedly retraces using her own body, are both violent and banal in their transformations. The automatic is investigated as a process between the conscious and the subconscious, between headwork and handwork; the body as a programmable man-machine, or as a Frautomat, in which the camera helmet as a prosthetic extension of the body makes the artist’s perspective universally tangible.
The exhibition brings together the early films with later works by the artist that address questions of ecology, sustainability, theories of perception, spirituality and healing. What they have in common is a search for tapping into other forms of perception and a knowledge that is reflected in the bodies, creatures and objects of our everyday environment. Early on, Raspé used her house and the adjoining garden in Rhumeweg in Berlin-Zehlendorf as a place for discursive artistic exchange. Artists, theorists, authors and activists, especially from the Vienna Actionism and Vienna Group circles as well as from the Berlin Fluxus scene, were closely connected to the house and regularly came together for artistic and social formats designed by Raspé.
Margaret Raspé studied painting and fashion at the Munich Art Academy and at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Berlin, between 1954 and 1957. In the early 1970s she developed the camera helmet and began producing the camera helmet films, followed in 1978 by the subjective ethnographic film about the ritual of the Greek anastenaria (fire walker). Raspé’s experimental works have so far only received fragmentary institutional reception in Germany, but her films attracted international attention early on and were shown at the Anthology Film Archives, New York and the Hayward Gallery, London, among others. Her film works are in the collections of the London Filmmakers’ Coop and the Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin.
Beatrice Hilke, Assistant Curator
Pia-Marie Remmers, Curatorial Assistant
In cooperation with
German Cinematheque, Berlin
Friday, 03 February – Monday, 29 May 2023
Haus am Waldsee
Argentinische Allee 30