Lutz Bacher, who lives and works in Berkeley and New York, has been confusing her audience since the 1970s with equally amusing and evocative works that revolve around the mediation and commercialisation of individual and collective life-designs and identity models. Bacher, who has worked since the beginning under a gender-confusing pseudonym, uses well-known images from film, politics and advertising, whose appearances as well as meanings she distorts and deconstructs. Humour is paired with biting analysis, ostensible authority derived from competence and displayed amateurism – collective desire and collective weakness. Her media are diverse and heterogeneous: painting, photography, video, text, installations, collages, photocopies, objects – in all of which she shatters seemingly familiar pictorial worlds to make tangible the breakdowns and contradictions in the images and objects of our social conventions and media fictions. Bacher makes use of all popular sources – among them porn magazines, trashy literature, gossip columns, self-help guides and paparazzi photos. But she also uses items from the cemeteries of collective obsessions, found in secondhand shops and equipment stores of film production companies. She inflicts a type of physical or psychological ‘damage’ on these finds that concedes strange and new connections to items that were once disparate and fragmented. Identity and the construction of meaning from and for these items also play an important role in the numerous interviews about her work that the artist has undertaken over the years with friends, artists, curators and acquaintances. These interviews were published last year as Do You Love Me? – a title that Bacher has also used in many of her works and exhibitions. As was to be expected, these interviews disrupt expectation, as through them one finds out more about the discussion partner than about the ostensible subject – Bacher’s work. Intimacy, subjectivity and assignment of roles are turned, twisted and utilised.
Bacher’s appearances in the art scene have been rare during her 30-plus years as an active artist and are characterised by an ‘artist’s artist’ status. In the past years her work has gained a larger audience, thanks to shows at the Kunstverein München in 2009, Cabinet in London in 2011 and Zachary Currie in New York in 2012. Over the course of 2013 Lutz Bacher will put on three separate exhibitions in Europe: in my own Kunsthalle Zurich, London’s ICA and Portikus in Frankfurt. Alongside these exhibitions a publication of the artist’s complete works will be released. BR
Translated from the German by Emily Lusk. This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue.