Silke Krah, Siegen, Germany
1969 Born in Kirchen
1988-1992 Studied art and theology for the teaching profession at the University of Siegen
1992-1996 Lecturer at the music and painting school Villa Sauer
1996 to date Lecturer at the Youth Art School Siegen
2007-2009 Lecturer at the School of Fine Arts
Silke Krah: Sex Makes the World Go Round, New York Arts Magazine Vol.12 no. 1/2
In and with my art, I repeatedly touch on sensitive, taboo issues by employing forms of artistic discourse that are very much critical of society. In this way, I examine social structures such as families; the would-be idyll of the nuclear family, for instance - father mother, child, house, car - is revealed as a space in which pervasive personal disorders take root.
Another form of critical discourse focuses on the increasing egocentrism of individualist Western societies, where the downside of the originally positive self-realization of an individual can lead to personal alienation that, in turn, is reflected in power games, mendacity, and double standards. My works also broach the issues of violence and powerlessness, sexual abuse, or the fascination with weapons, their ownership and its consequences.
Sexuality, eroticism and pornography constitute another topical area I am interested in. Sex pervades our everyday lives, whether blatantly obvious or cleverly hidden—and yet, sexuality remains a part of human relationships that is not discussed openly, and is instead made aggressive use of in advertising and the grubby world of pornography.
By transferring topics from the field of sexuality and eroticism into media and forms of presentation that are not sexually charged (or are artificially kept from becoming 'tainted' by sexuality—like embroidery as practiced by virtuous housewives, or children's toys), I unsettle the viewing habits of the average art consumer.
My works "sexy things: (embroidery, in memory of my grandmother), "come on play with me" (Play Mobil figures), and other works like "zottelbär-zottelbär" (pornographic drawings combined with poems taken from a German children's book) are genuinely provocative. Frequently, viewers will experience shock, bemusement or embarrassment upon first contact with the exhibits; only few will crack a smile, while still visibly unsettled.
On the surface, my works can be considered an invitation to voyeurism, but behind that surface a form of poesy waits to be discovered that may be rough-hewn and awkward, but is ultimately open for everyone; in fact, its triviality allows these works' gracefulness and tenderness to shine through.
"Sexy things" is inspired by photographs in erotic and pornographic magazines, 1 use a needle to create embroidered drawings. The models remain anonymous, and the image sections are chosen in such a way as to reveal as little of their faces as possible.
The handicraft of embroidery is an old-fashioned and conservative occupation which—as with many other skills, such as crochet, knitting, sewing, and tying—1 was taught as a child by my grandmother. I am intrigued by the idea of combining grandmotherly homework with erotic motifs.
In "Come on play with me" the titular phrase can be found in advertisements for Play Mobil children's toys, and also, surprisingly enough, in texts from porn magazines. Childhoods have been accompanied by the sweet, small, "safe and sound" world of Play Mobil for decades in this work, I have undressed the movable figures, and by adding painted- on erotic lingerie - reconfigured them as toys for adults; as such, they are still meant to be played with. Thus, orgies and other intimate and threatening scenarios emerge, and become real through the imagination of the beholder. I pursue such forms of confrontation in a playful, humorous and less drastic way than, for instance, the performance artist Paul McCarthy—whom 1 hold in high regard, and who is a merciless master of the art of uncovering societal ills—but nonetheless, 1 do so just as perseveringly.