Critics Back

Mimetic Views, Gerald Piffl, 1991

Natalia LL uses her own body, in a private and intimate sense, as material for the realization of her creative vision. Self-portrait, for which Natalia LL uses a variety of media, such as photograph, painting, performance, video, and installations, has been the focus of her work since the beginning of her artistic career. She assumes many different roles in performances, and simultaneously examines the borders between her artistic personality and her own person in the context of everyday life. Her own body gives her the most direct opportunity to express herself artistically. Natalia LL always strives to analyse different viewpoints, to look at herself from the outside, to interpret life individually. To that end, she creates her own pictorial language which differs from popular trends and fashions in body art.

All of Natalia LL’s work is based upon theoretical considerations. Her work is the result of subjective search and experience. The artist, with her potential for receiving, is the focal point at which all her questions are directed. She reacts to any changes, interferences, and manipulations like a seismograph.

Since the bulk of her work was created during the communist period, she began to express her artistic criticism of social issues and the political system quite early in her career. Natalia LL has become one of the most important artists of the last thirty years, and is still regarded as an uncompromising representative of individual and limitless artistic practice. The use of a variety of media allows Natalia LL an appropriate presentation of different themes, although photography plays a major role in her creative activity. The artist uses photography, an opposite of painting, as a means of magic. With a number of different artistic media she sets off in search of reality in art.

The camera lens affirms her analytical view, on the one hand, although on the other, she is aware that the camera never reacts neutrally, that it is also able to see its own world. By focusing on a segment of reality she gives the photograph something deeply suggestive that she, and only she, can see. In combination with other media, painting, objects, and sculpture, the artist provides the intimate, individual character of her photographic studies a “more important”, self-contained form which expressively interacts with the outside form.

A central theme throughout the entire creative work of Natalia LL is sexuality and feminism. She sees mystery in the human body which needs to be uncovered. In her self-examination, the artist also analyses transience and the aging of her own body. Separating it from the matter of which it is created, she sees the body rooted in the universe and human existence as a part of cosmic unity.

In her installation Panic Sphere Natalia LL enlarges artistic photographs of her face and places them on canvas. These artistic envoys of the textile picture are draped over chairs. These cloths in some way resemble Veronica’s veil with a variety of facial expressions. The arrangement of the chairs suggests an auditorium in which people live and die. People of different dispositions “take their seats”, grotesque visages that at first evoke fear as they lunge from the darkness towards the viewer. Intimate contact with them allows one to see what is individual in the face and some kind of lunatic life in the physiognomy. This attempt to represent various stages of fear and panic resembles the research of Franz Messerschmidt (end of the 18th century) on the classification of human head types. The viewer is shown their own fears and their own predicament: after all, anyone may take a seat on any of these chairs.

Gerald Piffl
Berlin, May 1991

Translated by Jarosław Fejdych
Proofreading Kevin Hannan