From the book “Peter Super-T-Art”, page 4-5, 2007.
By Elisabeth Delin Hansen
In recent years, Simone de Beauvoir’s classic observation that “one is not born a woman, but becomes one” has found its counterpart in masculinity studies. Being a male no longer constitutes the human normal form: the male, too, has become a gender, a constructed one at that. In his works, the Danish artist Peter Brandt raises a number of questions concerning Masculinity and with both irony and care points to the expectations, external andinternalised, facing the modern Western male.
The title of Peter Brandt’s exhibition Peter Super T-Art refers to the title of one of the American artist Hannah Wilke’s most famous works Hannah Wilke Super T-Art from 1974. Seen in retrospect, Hannah Wilke (1940-1993)was one of American
feminism’s most significant and sharply analytical artists; but in her time, she was controversial because of her artistic strategies which, in contrast to most other feminists of the time, employed an overexposure of the glamorous in her critique of the feminine role. She used her own beautiful body as her most important material and developed artistic strategies in which performance, photography and wordplay constituted a complex net of references. Hannah Wilke Super T-Art represents this very integration of performance, photography and wordplay, taking as its starting point Wilke’s playing out a series of nearly archetypal poses.
In 1998, Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, presented a large
retrospective exhibition of Hannah Wilke’s works, being not only the first major presentation after her death but also the first comprehensive European exhibition. With the very special importance Hannah Wilke has come to represent to the Nikolaj Art Center, it is therefore particularly meaningful to us to show this exhibition with it’sdeparture in and its dialogue with Wilke and her strategies of sexual politics.
For several years now, Peter Brandt has been working on an examination of sexuality as staged. One particular case in point is his project Marilyn & Me
in which he, as indicated by the title, relates personally to Marilyn Monroe and the sexual codes associated with her mythologisation. In Peter Super T-Art, these references are used to investigate masculinity. Some of the works, through their staging and choice of titles, clearly refer to some of Hannah Wilke’s central photographed studio performances; others establish the connection to Wilke strictly through their joint titles or through other, more complex references.
Peter Brandt’s work not merely revolve around masculinity for its complementarity
to Wilke’s investigations of femininity: with, among other things, a polemic use of
Valerie Solanas’ notorious SCUM Manifesto and references to the current political
and cultural state of affairs, he goes on to investigate the decline of the potential
of the masculine role to provide identification, both in a private and a political context.
I should like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Peter Brandt for our collaboration
on both the exhibition and the catalogue. It has been an ongoing project
for a couple of years, and it has been a great joy gradually seeing it develop.
The articles for this catalogue have been written by two of the most noted scholars within gender studies including Wilke: Joanna Frueh who wrote a pioneering article for the first retrospective Hannah Wilke exhibition in the US in 1989, as well as Laura Cottingham who, as a part of her comprehensive and distinguished activities as a curator and a writer within sexual politics, wrote one of the articles for Nikolaj’s Wilke catalogue in 1998. I want to thank the two authors warmly for their articles which not only put into perspective Peter Brandt’s work as it relates to Wilke’s investigation of female sexuality but also establish a thorough and more general reading of this highly personal Danish artist. Many thanks also to graphic designer Caroline Seehusen for her beautiful and functional lay-out of the catalogue. Finally, I want to thank the Danish Arts Council’s Committee for Visual Arts for supporting
the publication of this catalogue which represents the first major analysis of Peter Brandt’s work.
Elisabeth Delin Hansen
Director, Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center