Petra Lange-Berndt

is working at the Department of History of Art, University College London. Most of my work has been arguing from the side of making and doing. The book Animal Art. Präparierte Tiere in der Kunst, 1850-2000 (Specimens in Art) investigates into entanglements of art and biology: it surveys art practices that deal critically with power relations connected to body perserving techniques such as taxidermy or wet preparation. More specifically I was searching for strategies proposing alternative body models, upsetting normative gender roles as well as hierarchies of human and animal.

Currently, together with Mechthild Fend, I am running the AHRC Research Network Cultures of Preservation. The Afterlife of Specimens between Art and Science since the Eighteenth Century.

I am also interested in curatorial processes. Together with Dietmar Rübel I have co-edited a book on Sigmar Polke & Company, their living situation and art production of the 1970s: Sigmar Polke: We Petty Bourgois! Contemporaries and Comrades, The 1970s (2009; English version 2011, both Koenig Books). We revised how art history had dealt with this large and long-forgotten body of work by stressing communal living, collective art production, psychedelic culture and politics of the times. This research was the starting point for an exhibition curated by us with Dorothee Böhm in three parts taking place over eleven months at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, March 2009 to January 2010. We won the “Exhibition of the Year” award by the International Association of Art Critics (German section). The experimental format of the exhibition is documented in a separate publication.


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Contributed by Petra Lange-Berndt

Tessa working Dodo, London 1942-46