“If we are the most vulnerable in our poetry, we shall pour our whole bodies into it.” – Katalin Ladik
We invite you to say the exhibition title out loud: repeating the letter “o” nine times, rounding your lips and vibrating your vocal cords, making a short pause for the dash, and then expelling the gentle push of “pus”. You have now entered the world of Katalin Ladik, whose radical approach to concrete and visual poetry, sound, performance, and sculpture established her as a key figure in Central and Eastern European art.
“Ooooooooo-pus” is the first survey exhibition in Germany of the work of Katalin Ladik. The work of the trailblazing artist (b. 1942, Novi Sad) has its spiritual and conceptual roots in the multi-ethnic and feminist avant-gardes of former Yugoslavia. Through her work she challenges gender roles and female archetypes, using her body and voice as both instrument and medium.
For Ladik, the body engenders poetry. It is a site of self-representation that she has consistently explored in her performances. She positioned herself at the intersection of various established and new performance traditions engaging in happenings, rituals, and photo-performance. Ladik was also successful as a film and stage actress, and often played feminine ideals and female archetypes.
Her visual poems—collages that include sewing patterns, sheet music, and found objects such as circuit boards from radios and kitchen appliances—function also as musical scores. They explore connections between the voice and image while expanding language through phonetic experiments. Language is at the heart of Katalin Ladik’s practice. Her expansive approach to poetry materialises on the pages of her books, in her musical scores, and through concrete poems and visual collages. The latter are accompanied by sonic interpretations that show the artist’s extraordinary vocal range.
In the exhibition, a red thread leads from Ladik’s sewing machine in the first gallery through the entire exhibition to her sculpture Follow me into Mythology (2017). Another conduit is the sound, which is central to Haus der Kunst’s 2023 programme, and which forms the connective tissue of Ladik’s multifaceted oeuvre. Each of the exhibition’s three rooms has its own soundscape based on Ladik’s visual and phonic poetry, making “Ooooooooo-pus” an exhibition that needs to be heard as much as to be seen. Followed by “Meredith Monk: Calling”, this exhibition presents a new exhibition model at Haus der Kunst for displaying ground-breaking practices based on the audible.
The exhibition includes two new works commissioned for the occasion: a sculptural score with corresponding sound and an installation that derives from Ladik’s multimedia performance Alice in Codeland.
Sarah Johanna Theurer (Curator Haus der Kunst München) and Hendrik Folkerts (Curator of International Contemporary Art and Head of Exhibitions, Moderna Museet, Stockholm) with Manuela Hillmann (Curatorial Fellow Haus der Kunst München).