Haus der Kunst presents Katalin Ladik: Ooooooooo-pus from March 3 to September 10, 2023.
“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.
Ladik was born in 1942 in Novi Sad, Serbia, a city in former Yugoslavia that has long served as a link between the Balkans and areas of Central and Eastern Europe. Novi Sad’s predominantly Serbian and Hungarian population influenced the artist’s visual approach to language and poetry. Furthermore, Ladik confronted the folkloric and nationalistic discourses common in that region with considerable irony and penetrating critique in her performances. Ladik became a member of Novi Sad’s literary and creative avant-garde in the 1960s. Throughout the 1970s, Ladik increasingly shifted her focus to visual art and merged her poetry with her experimental sound practice, positioning herself at the crossroads of various established and new performance traditions, ranging from radio play, theater, and film to happenings, rituals, photo-performance, and television.
The first section of Katalin Ladik: Ooooooooo-pus is dedicated to language, which is central to Ladik’s approach. Her broad approach to poetry manifests itself on the pages of her books, in musical scores, in concrete poems and visual collages, and in a newly commissioned sculptural score titled Matilda’s Dream (2023). Almost all of these pieces are accompanied by sound interpretations that demonstrate the artist’s exceptional vocal range. All of these pieces testify to Ladik’s logopoiesis process: the creation of new registers of language through acts of poetry, utterance, and image. Or, to paraphrase the title of her 1976 album Phonopoetica, a method of comprehending poetry through the voice.
These sonic versions of Ladik’s poems showcase her distinct performance language, which is highlighted in the exhibition’s second portion, which sits at the crossroads of experimental sound practice, theater, occurrences, and photo-performance. Since Ladik provocatively attacked traditional conventions and gender roles by embodying their inherent contradictions, a definite feminist viewpoint emerged.
The exhibition’s third and final section emphasizes how Ladik’s multifarious practice is saturated with folkloric and mythological aspects, as well as the construction of new origin tales surrounding her key subjects: language, national identity, gender, femininity, the body, and technology. Ladik’s new installation work Alice (2023), based on her multimedia performance series Alice in Codeland, and the enormous textile artwork Follow me Into Mythology (2017), which emerged from the live performance Ladik produced at documenta 14 in Athens, are two significant works in this part.
The connective tissue that connects Ladik’s varied work to this exhibition is sound. Each gallery has its own soundscape based on the artist’s visual and aural poetry, making “Ooooooooo-pus” a show that should be heard as well as seen. Ladik will also perform live as part of the Haus der Kunst’s TUNE program on July 14 and 15, 2023, both at the exhibition and in collaboration with composer Svetlana Mara.
The exhibition at Haus der Kunst München is co-curated by Sarah Johanna Theurer (Haus der Kunst München) and Hendrik Folkerts (Moderna Museet, Stockholm), in close collaboration with the artist. The exhibition Katalin Ladik: Ooooooooo-pus is co-organized by Haus der Kunst München, Ludwig Forum Aachen, and Moderna Museet, Stockholm.
July 14: TUNE Katalin Ladik live in the exhibition
July 15: TUNE Katalin Ladik and Svetlana Maraš