Isabelle Wenzel - Body Movin’
TitleGUP #067 - PERFORMANCE
“Let your backbone flip but don’t slip a disc, let your spine unwind, just take a risk.” This excerpt from the Beastie Boys song Body Movin’ very much applies to the artistic work of Isabelle Wenzel (b. 1982, Germany), whose career is defined by an extensive, and remarkably consistent, series of unusual, distorted poses in which the model seemingly stretches what is physically possible. These absurd body sculptures are then made into photographic stills – extending the acrobatic act to infinity.
Within the seconds that the self-timer allows her, Wenzel – who studied to be a photographer/artist, but is also a trained acrobat – takes up a seemingly impossible pose and continues to hold it until the camera has clicked. Enhanced by keen composition and sophisticated colour schemes, these images have an irresistible appeal. But in order to reach a satisfying result, the manoeuvres – usually carried out by the artist herself – need to be repeated many times over, making the work an experimental performance in front of the camera.
Improvisation is thus an important element in this challenging ‘game’. Things can go wrong, especially in situations where the model is also the photographer, but the experiments also result in happy mistakes. This selection of her work hints at the wide range of approaches Wenzel has taken to show the remarkable twists and turns a human body can endure, and allows us to appreciate her artistic inventiveness in turning each of these performances into a unique still photograph.
Counting Till Ten (APE, October 2020), includes a selection of works made between 2014-2020. It circles around Wenzel’s observation of the interactions between herself and the camera.
Isabelle Wenzel is represented by Galerie Bart, Amsterdam.