Marianne Wex. “Female” and “Male” Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures.

by florence cheval

Marianne Wex, “Female” and “Male” Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures, 1972-1977

During the years 1972 to 1977 Marianne Wex photographed people and their body language along the streets of Hamburg and subsequently classified her photos into different categories. She juxtaposed women and men according to the specific positioning of arms and legs, feet, knees, elbows, hands, shoulders, and heads. She was interested in the degree to which gender-specific conditioning and hierarchy is reflected through everyday poses and gestures. In order to expand her research, Wex supplemented the approximately 5,000 photographs taken in public space with rephotographed pictures from mass-media sources and comparative historical representations from antiquity and the Middle Ages.

The artist transferred the copious results of this research onto panels. She assembled the images and explanatory texts on each panel as collages: the upper row shows men posing as a mirror of patriarchal power structures, with the women situated below and occasionally a few exceptions to the stereotypes. Tying into this installative form, Wex published a more extensive book titled Let’s Take Back Our Space: Female and Male Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures (1979). The panels and the book open up a gamut of photographic source material, ranging from Wex’s street photographs and photojournalistic shots to advertisements, art-historical reproductions, snapshots from family albums, to even include pornographic images, photographs of celebrities, and stills from television and films.

Afterall: Mike Sperlinger, Two Slight Returns: Chauncey Hare and Marianne Wex, 19.04.2011