Tom Felber for ceative face Magazine
Within the series "Talents" C/O Berlin presents until May 11, 2008 the exhibition "Thirty-Two Kilos" by the photographer Ivonne Thein and the art historian Heide Häusler. In the catalogue Heide Häusler presents a critical analysis of Ivonne Thein's work. The catalogue is published by Deutscher Kunstverlag.
The fragile Iightness of the models seems disturbing and disquieting in their artificial, unnatural poses. Balanced on all fours with their backs to the ground, facing upward, or lunging forward with torso twisted around to the side, some of these images look more Iike displays of painful contortion than presentations of bodies and fashion. Their Iimbs appear unnaturally long and thin - in some poses dangerously fragile - with bones and joints protruding conspicuously. The female models wear white satin underwear, corsets, silk stockings, as weil as medical bandages that entwine themselves around arms and upper body in such a way that movement appears altogether impossible; that stretch across breast and neck in a way that must make it hard to breathe at all. But what are these emaciated bodies actually presenting?
The pose is a balancing act in Ivonne Thein's photographlc series "Thirty-Two Kilos". Here, she deals with the pathological striving of girls and women in the US to be extremely thin. The background to this work is a phenomenon that had al ready emerged in the US in the 1990s with the Internet movement Pro Ana, which elevates anorexia nervosa to the status of a new, positive lifestyle for young women. In Thein's series, she simultaneously calls the role of photography into question: in the case of Pro Ana, this medium is, on the one hand, a document providing compelling evidence, but on the other, it is a consciously manipulated image. Photography takes on a key role in this process, creating and constituting extreme body images and ideals of femininity - with a direct link to the developments on the Internet. The phenomenon of the Pro-Ana websites is a product of our present day and age, in which individuality is being replaced by a totalitarian typology of images.
Ivonne Thein employs the tools, modes of presentation,. and superficiality of the fashion world in her visual language and compositional style. Furthermore, she has manipulated her photographs on the computer, turning slender models into anorexic bodies. Faceless and positioned in disconcerting poses, they oscillate in a transitory state between femininity and morbidity. The female figure in the hermetic photographs of Ivonne Thein is constructed, artificial - a doll. It is as artificial as the image of ideal physicality that so fatefully ensnares most people with eating disorders. Only through the exaggeration does a complex confrontation with traditional images of the female body become possible. Beyond this, Thein confronts the viewer with the question of the status and role of photography in the digital age.
Ivonne Thein, born in 1979, completed vocational training as a photographer from 1996 to 1999. Since 2003, Ivonne Thein has been studying photo design at the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences. In August 2005, she took part in the Dongang Photofestival in Yeoungwol, South Korea, and traveled through China with other students and Professor Cindy Gates, completing a book project thereafter. In 2007, she studied photography for one semester at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia. Her works have been shown at various photo festivals: most recently, in 2007 at the Darmstadt Days of Photography, the Stuttgart Photo Summer, the Wiesbaden Days of Photography as well as in London in a competitive exhibition on the theme of "Passion of Fashion" at the London Photographic Association. Ivonne Thein lives and works in Dortmund.
Heide Häusler, born in 1977, studied art history, philosophy, and film and television studiesat the Ruhr University Bochum. In her master's thesis with the title "Beat Streuli. Surfaces at a Metropolis", she explored the perceptual structures of the flaneur and the voyeur in street photography. From 2004 to 2006, she conducted research in the photographic collection of the Düsseldorf City museum and worked on exhibition projects on historical and contemporary photography. She is currently completing a doctoral thesis on the subject, "Gender constructions in the photography of cities" at the Ruhr University Bochum. Heide Häusler lives and works in Berlin and Cologne.