Hannah Villiger “Amaze Me” Muzeum Susch

March 20, 2023

“Amaze Me” is a comprehensive survey dedicated to the Swiss artist Hannah Villiger with contributions from contemporary artists Alexandra Bachzetsis, Lou Masduraud and Manon Wertenbroek. The largest exhibition dedicated to the artist in over 15 years, it reflects Muzeum Susch’s founding mission to spotlight women artists and revise a matrilineal art historical canon.

One of Switzerland’s most significant women artists, Hannah Villiger’s life was abruptly cut short at age 45 by heart failure. She is best known for her large-format photographic works, combining close-ups of sometimes fragmented and abstracted body parts, addressing self-image, the body in relation to identity and the skin as an interface between inner and outer worlds. Villiger used polaroid images, enlarged them via an internegative and mounted them on aluminium to be presented both individually and as assembled groupings in wall-size grid-like formats. Developments with social media and wider discourse on gender self-representation has brought renewed interest and approaches to Villiger’s practice. The grid-like structure of her larger works conjure reflections on platforms such as Instagram and her self-documentation as precursors to selfies.

“Amaze Me” showcases over 60 works, drawing an arc from Villiger’s black-and-white photographs created in the 1970s to polaroid images created in the 1980s and 1990s. Muzeum Susch has collaborated closely with the artist’s estate to present the breadth of Villiger’s artistic practice. A number of the artist’s large photographic works and group of works on paper are presented for the first time. Also, Villiger’s lesser-known works on the built environment are included in the exhibition, such as polaroid-based works of city views, all from her work and living spaces in Paris and Basel.

Within the exhibition, three contemporary Swiss-based artists, Alexandra Bachsetsis, Lou Masduraud and Manon Wertenbroek, present three smaller presentations that are distributed throughout the tour of the museum, continually stimulating thoughts about cross-generational artistic strategies and approaches. The artists have been selected based on their exploration of similar themes to those of Villiger. Bachzetsis present This Side Up, a video installation of a performer moving in all directions in a confined space, much like the way Villiger writhes, turns and shapes her own body under the eye of the Polaroid camera. Masduraud presents Petrifying basin (kisses with the nymphs), a sculptural installation with her signature fountains and small wall objects that playfully and sensually rethink organic life and anchors mythological traditions in the present day. And finally, Wertenbroek presents a selection of objects addressing the boundaries between the skin and surrounding world.

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