Iris Häussler - Artist Statement Banner

Iris Häussler - Artist Statement

The majority of my artwork starts with the creation of a fictitious persona who is then “brought to life” by constructing a narrative inspired by and enmeshed with the place where the project will be shown. This involves collaborating with local institutions and the general population to help me develop an understanding of the social, art historical, economic and geographical context for my character.

If it is it a museum, I want to know how it developed, and how the museum is perceived in its contemporary environment. Do local people visit it frequently? How accessible does it look and feel? Often, the curators I work with facilitate encounters with historians, locals and art-engaged people on the fringe of the institution. I am in awe of the human stories that I discover - which expand my understanding of the place and offer entry-points for the narrative to be build in seamlessly into that environment.

From this point the exhibition starts coming together - my studio-work supported by the trust of  the curators, and the organisational - and building work supported by the in-house teams.

Art References

My work stands on the shoulders of uncountable artists and art explorations. This project particularly relates to female biographies of the 20th century when some artists models emancipated to become artists themselves, often under the most restraining social and economic conditions.

For Florence the exposure from early childhood on to washing, caring, tending and mending of fabrics and later her involvement in the “Handicraft Project” in Milwaukee influenced her relationship to clothing in perceiving it as her “second skin”.  

Some artists echoed in Florence`s body of work:

  • Séraphine Louis, also known as Séraphine de Senlis (1864-1942): an art brut artist who developed her own practice from scratch (literally, involving even the production of her painting material), under the most difficult circumstances, and who suffered institutionalization in her later years.

  • Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972): who role-modelled a life of courage in her arts, love and life with and for women for generations to come.

  • Suzanne Valadon (1865 - 1938): who was committed to her work against all odds and took on a double role as a model and a painter (she modelled for many Parisian artists, including for J.J. Henner).

  • Agnes Richter (1844-1918), a German seamstress who while institutionalized undertook an ongoing project of embroidering her straitjacket with words and undecipherable phrases documenting her inner life.

  • Dina Vierny (1909-2009), the artist model who emancipated into an international art-dealer, collector and museum director.

  • Betty Goodwin (1923-2008), who’s copper-plate etchings of items of clothing are referenced in the “splashings” and imprints of clothing and strings on wallpaper by Florence.

  • Yves Klein who’s experimental applications of paint included direct printing and brushing on canvas using the the human body as a tool - calling this method Anthropometry

See also: