Opening on Friday, 03.11.2023, 17:00–21:00
BPA// Raum presents Magnus Hirschfeld, an exhibition by BPA// alumn Kévin Blinderman.
The German-Jewish physicist and sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (1868–1935) has fascinated Kévin Blinderman for the many blindspots his life and work retain both historically and still today. It is around the personal discovery of the figure by the artist that the exhibition takes shape: as a historical and emotional mausoleum.
Blinderman has worked in close collaboration with the Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft to present Hirschfeld’s death mask, lost for decades and then found in a Vancouver basement in the autumn of 1993. Taken out of its archival box and presented here in the exhibition space, this mask serves to reveal the unstable memory around Hirschfeld and his legacy.
During his lifetime, Hirschfeld’s prolific research on sexology led him to offer medical treatment and counseling at the start of his medical practice in 1894, both in Magdeburg and at his Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexual Science) which he founded in Berlin in 1918, in a time when medical care was unavailable for sexual and gender minorities.
Labeled a public enemy by the Nazis as they rose to power in the late 1920s, Hirschfeld left Germany in November 1930 for New York, eventually continuing his travels around the world. Upon his return to Europe in March 1932, he chose not to return to Germany, instead finding residence in Austria, Switzerland, and ultimately France, where he died in 1935.
In his presentation, Blinderman interweaves Hirschfeld’s biography with his own, both through an intellectual affiliation and a double identity: that of being Jewish and homosexual. The exhibition is an attempt, at his own scale, to revive this Berlin icon.
Kévin Blinderman is a French artist and curator based in Paris. In his practice, he orchestrates physical and mental experiences in which objects or situations that surround him transcend their original functionality. Blinderman’s works are composed like scores, offering a physical and performative experience to the visitor. He re-enacts and overplays the social choreographies that define his environment, melancholically underlining the distances that bring us together. Blinderman recently exhibited at Basel Social Club with Conditions (CH), Friche Belle de Mai (Marseille, FR), Berghain (Berlin, DE), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin, DE) and Kunsthalle Bern (CH). He is currently in residency at Le Centre d'Art contemporain – la synagogue de Delme (FR) and was a BPA// participant in 2020–2021.
The exhibition was made possible thanks to the generous support of The Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft e.V., which was founded in 1982 in West-Berlin by members of the gay and lesbian movement to research and preserve the scientific and cultural legacy of the sex researcher Magnus Hirschfeld and his Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (1919-1933).
BPA// Raum is a platform for artistic exchange. It is operated by BPA// Berlin program for artists and organized by Sophia Yvette Scherer and Anna-Lisa Scherfose.
Enter through red passageway
Image: Magnus Hirschfeld ́s death mask. Courtesy of Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft e.V., Berlin.