WIP [FOTZEPOLITICS] developed over the long lockdown of 2020-21, drawing inspiration from vintage dress patterns, radical painting, makeup compacts, protest signs, and the DIY attitude of the 90s RIOT GRRRLS. Playing around my studio in reconstructed hand-painted garments, silhouettes and vignettes emerged in costume drama photo sessions staged and styled with my teenage daughter.
This collective body of work borrows its title from a song by Cocteau Twins, opening with the lyrics “My dreams are low, they are sick and must be addressed, they are young girls’ dreams.” As defined in the Cocteau Twins glossary “Fotzepolitic” is: 1 n. [Germanic, vulgar] Literally “cunt politics” 2. Using, exhibiting, or proceeding from policy; Judicious. 3. Crafty; cunning.
A crafty self-reliance sets the tone for a feminist Kammerspiel for the 21st century, inspiring us to fail better, more glamorously, more celebratory: celebrate the young girl on the ruins of civilization – celebrate the old hag that is the ruin of civilization!
WIP[FOTZEPOLITIC] was presented in the exhibition APOCALYPSTICK, at Le Confort Moderne (F) summer 2023.
The following is an excerpt from a Q & A with the exhibition's curator, Kathy Alliou.
KA: Formally speaking, how would you describe your work in APOCALYPSTICK?
LHB: [...] the work references and pays tribute to a gaggle of art historical ancestors, from the French rococo fluff of Watteau and Fragonard, through the immense and immersive American Color Field Painting of Sam Gilliam, Morris Louis, and Helen Frankenthaler (Mountains and Sea) and up to the mark-making of the 60s and 70s in movements such as the “Fundamentele Schilderkunst” (NL) and “Radical Painting” (US) — I guess as such, in the French context, you could sum it up as a Frivolous Supports / Surfaces…
KA : Adding “frivolous;” it is funny to associate a regime of affect with the Supports/ Surfaces movement, affects that are in principles foreign to the radicalism of the avant-gardes, when this movement was precisely one of the products of the change in society that lead to the events of May 68 in France. There is, however, an echo between the crisis of society and the crisis of painting or pictoriality. And any crisis leads to affects. I guess we will come back to the concept crisis again, later on, but on the topic of frivolity: what is the specific pleasure with working on textile?
LHB: When I started working on the prom dresses – a typical American apparel, easily dismissed as kitsch – I found the polyester satin to be a super satisfactory surface. Silky smooth (like skin) but also very absorbent — it turns out it can hold a lot of paint (like makeup.) I love how there is already a color saturation and shine to contend with; in that way you paint “in reverse” from shiny to matte, into something that is more subtle, muddled, and troubled.
The “residual paintings” – the little canvases which accompany the dresses – are, in reality, their palettes inscribed with text fragments, lyrics, slogans, silliness – whatever took my fancy in the moment – and sometimes embossed with glitter or pearlescent powder; they reference protest signs and makeup compacts in equal measure. It is funny how it is only now, writing these words, that I realize the American term “canvassing” refers to, literally “the systematic initiation of direct contact with individuals, commonly used during political campaigns. Canvassing can be done for many reasons: political campaigning, grassroots fundraising, community awareness, membership drives, and more.”
[...] WIP[FOTZEPOLITIC] is characterized by an air of frivolity – you might describe these ensembles as a “community of carefreeness.” (Not to be confused with carelessness!) As the title suggests it is a stab at an intergenerational feminism, which is not stagnant, but a perpetual Work-In-Progress. I wanted to emphasize that this, the care-work of feminism, is not a chore; I wanted to infuse it with a little “whistle while you work” attitude — as Emma Goldman put it: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution!”