Critics’ Picks

View of “Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me,” 2023.

View of “Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me,” 2023.


Hannah Villiger

Muzeum Susch
Surpunt 78
January 4–July 2, 2023

“Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me” is part exhibition, part fleshed-out topography. On the ground floor, Block III, 1988, presents twelve enlarged snaps of the artist’s armpit hair. Here as elsewhere in the show, the structured repetition of Villiger’s subject matter banalizes its meaning; the sexualized reverts to the ontological and back. The considerable scale of her work is a tongue-in-cheek rejoinder to all those who, quite literally, would make a big deal out of the female body.      

Upstairs, the photographs on view are no longer a provocation but, instead, acts of love. In the framed testimony of Arbeit (Work, 1980), Villiger’s freckles partner with the red lipstick of her lover (also her collaborator and frequent model) as the two crouch under a table. Both are compressed by the claustrophobic composition, but they keep their chins up. In Skulptural (Sculptural, 1984–85), the Polaroid’s flash obscures more than it reveals: The cheap lighting flattens the surface of a torso, transforming it into a white canvas, a tabula rasa interrupted only by a pair of pink nipples. After her separation from her partner, Villiger began to duplicate her body using mirrors. Sometimes, the end results are as playful as a kaleidoscope, as in Block XVI, 1989. In others, like Block XXX, 1993–94, the artist distorts her body into something monstrous, an amalgamation of pretzeled limbs and lonely toes. In longing, we duplicate ourselves. Again, and again, and again.