Woman of the Week: Artist Natascha Sadr Haghighian

Woman of the Week: Artist Natascha Sadr Haghighian

This week’s pick: Contemporary German-Iranian artist Natascha Sadr Haghighian (who, according to online sources, could have been born in Budapest, Sachsenheim, Australia, Munich, Tehran, London or Iran sometime between 1953 and 1987).

Most well-known for her critiques of institutions and the politics of representation, Haghighian uses sound, video, installation and text to challenge the role of the artist and the viewer.

Why we picked her: On Thursday, organizers for the German pavilion announced that Haghighian will represent Germany at the 2019 Venice Biennale, set to take place May 11-Nov. 24, 2019. But true to Haghighian’s previous artistic endeavors, the artist has already complicated things a bit.

Continuing her exploration of name and representation, for the purposes of the project, Haghighian will go by Natascha Süder Happelmann — chosen after systemically analyzing how her name has been misspelled by official authorities and auto-correct systems over the past 30 years.

Helene Duldung, chosen by Haghighian as her personal spokeswoman for the project, explained that the change of name is “not an arbitrary gesture. For Natascha Süder Happelmann, adaptation is an artistically imperative decision, and a necessary one.”

German Pavilion press conference on Oct. 25, 2018. Left: Helene Duldung. Right: Natascha Sadr Haghighian. Vorstellung der künstlerischen Position, Zeughauskino, Berlin. Photo courtesy: Stefan Fischer.

Haghighian’s use of an alias harkens back to her 2004 CV exchange platform, bioswop.net, which allowed for artists to provide their CVs and bios for other artists to use, while giving them the opportunity to “borrow” the CV of a stranger for their own purposes.

On the site’s still extant about page, the project’s stated goal is to “devaluate the notion of CVs altogether, the essentialist elements like e.g. origin as well as the accumulated trade value created through image exchange on the market place.”

“Natascha Süder Happelmann is an important voice of contemporary art,” reads a statement from the German Pavilion. “In her work she unfolds the poetic, imaginary and critical potential of art. She stands for an artistic position that not only analyses or comments on aesthetic and scientific concepts and social or political conditions, but actively changes them.”

Below are works by the artist, who will reveal her design for the 58th edition of the Venice Biennale in 2019.

Natascha Süder Happelmann, “passing one loop into another,” 2017, Installationsansicht Umanesimo-Disumanesimo 1980/2017, Atrio esterno, Palazzina Reale, Florenz, 2017. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Natascha Sadr Haghighian, “pssst LEOPARD 2A7+,” 2013–ongoing. Ausstellungsansicht ACCENTISMS, TAXISPALAIS Kunsthalle Tirol, 2017. Photo courtesy: Günter Kresser.
Natascha Süder Happelmann, “onco-mickey-catch,” 2016. Installationsansicht Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, 2016. Photo courtesy: Jens Ziehe.
Natascha Süder Happelmann, “Fuel to the Fire,” 2016. Installationsansicht Tensta konsthall, Stockholm, 2016. Photo courtesy: Jean-Baptiste Beranger.

Top Image: Natascha Süder Happelmann, "Fuel to the Fire," 2016. Installationsansicht Tensta konsthall, Stockholm, 2016. Photo courtesy: Jean-Baptiste Beranger.