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September 15, 2022–January 8, 2023
Leila Hekmat, who was born in Los Angeles in 1981 and now resides and works in Berlin, is invited to expand her ambitious performance work for the unique setting of the Haus am Waldsee in her first institutional exhibition, Female Remedy. The debut of director Anna Gritz’s new program is marked with the exhibition. The performance Symptom Recital: Music for Wild Angels will be present at the opening as part of Berlin Art Week 2022.
A comedy of manners called Female Remedy explores disease as both a physical and psychological state. The Haus am Waldsee is converted into a female religious sanitarium as a result of the exhibition. Hekmat Hospital is an institution for a disease that has no treatment. This infirmary’s goal is to strengthen current insolence and promote growth through humorous relief and buffoonery. It is a place of healing for the woman who has not repented.
The strange mocking flamboyances going around this hospital indicate a covert protest against the rules that apply to other medical facilities. It is unclear what specifically is wrong with these women, but they are suffering terribly and in a ridiculously theatrical way. Exaggerated altruism and the desire to cover up, hide, erase, and overlook all forms of trauma are what motivate the workers at this facility. Patients and nurses fall in love with one another, and soon everyone is afflicted with the same crazy illnesses. This comedy explores the unrestrained battle to develop a new mental and sexual language that involves gestures, attire, and behavior in order to develop a concealed self-image. Female Remedy, a surrealist depiction of a hospital for women, makes the case that seeking self-improvement has become a means of preserving one’s psychic health and views illness as a portal to self-discovery.
Haus am Waldsee is transformed into Hospital Hekmat, replete with patient beds, an operating room, a chapel, and other different treatment facilities. Visitors to the show will walk through rooms with hospital-style curtains printed with digital collages, beds with odd characters, and figures representing the eccentric patients and their caregivers.
The cultural expectations for women are critically examined in Leila Hekmat’s artistic activity. She continuously challenges presumptive gender, sexuality, and sexism norms. The artist creates performances that make use of lavishly constructed costumes and stage designs in the style of the Theatre of the Absurd and Commedia dell’Arte. Hekmat employs a multidisciplinary approach to her work and creates hybrids of the performing arts, visual arts, music, humor, and film.
Hekmat has had solo exhibitions and performances including Il Matrimonio di Immacolata at Disappering Berlin (2021), The Organ Grinder’s Canto at Duddells, Hong Kong (2018) and The French Mistake at the Glasgow International Festival of contemporary visual art (2016). She has participated in major group exhibitions such as In the Company of, EDEN EDEN, Berlin (2022), A Fire in my Belly, Julia Stoscheck Collection, Berlin (2021), Studio Berlin, Berghain, Berlin (2020) or as part of the Tbilisi Residencies programme in Tbilisi, Georgia (2019).
A zine by the artist will be released at the opening of the exhibition, with contributions by Vaginal Davis and Diamond Stingily, German/English, 36 pages, 20 Euros.
The musical performance Symptom Recital: Music for Wild Angels will go along with the exhibition. It will take the style of a variety program that tells the stories of the people who live in the hospital through stand-up comedy confessions and musical interludes. For the length of the exhibition, the performance will be transformed into a multi-part sound installation.
Symptom Recital: Music for Wild Angels, written and directed by Leila Hekmat
Starring: Roman Ole, Clara Dessau, Magdalena Mitterhofer, Cassie Augusta Jørgensen, Shade Theret
Musical direction: Roman Ole and Roman Lemberg
Costumes: Leila Hekmat
Tailoring: Elsa Leguevaques
Lighting: Michael Kleine
September 16 and 17, 7pm
Haus am Waldsee
Argentinische Allee 30
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–6pm