Suit Suite

Hannah Wilke

New York, USA, 1940 - Houston, Texas, USA, 1993
  • Date: 
  • Edition/serial number: 
    Unique work
  • Media description: 
    Video ("Philly"; Digital Betacam and DVD; b/w, sound, 32'), eight framed photographs, photograph with "Le grand verre" and a note, hand written by the artist, announcing the performance "Hannah Wilke Through the Large Glass"
  • Category: 
    Installation, Video, Photography
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This work is related to other Hannah Wilke works in which the artist breaks down the myths surrounding the representation of women in popular culture and the history of art; in this case, the protagonist is Marcel Duchamp. The installation includes the video Philly, which documents the performance Hannah Wilke Through “The Large Glass”, in which Wilke undresses in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, behind Duchamp’s Le grand verre (The Large Glass, 1915-1923). To contextualise the action, reference must be made on the one hand to the way that Duchamp’s work - representing a sexual act transferred to the mechanics of desire - is based on certain misogynistic stereotypes of the 20th century such as the ‘femme fatale’. On the other hand there is the frequently non-critical reception of the French artist by the American neo-avant-gardists at the time.
Wilke begins dressed in a white suit, the same one that appears in the eight photos. This style of suit is associated with the sexual icons of the 1970s, as represented by Helmut Newton photographs and Yves Saint Laurent models, which show an apparently independent woman with a life beyond the home environment. By putting these referents onstage, Wilke set out a feminist critique of Duchamp’s patriarchal and dominating role, and of the way that avant-garde art demarcated female identity.

Cristina Cámara Bello

Hannah Wilke
Artworks in the Collection