“A completely normal life together, absolutely nothing else,” is how a seventy-two-year-old lady describes her relationship with the gay Peter as we follow her voice telling us about her memories for twenty minutes. What sort of meaning a concept like normality can develop in the most intimate areas of life is the theme of Rebecca Tess’s Orchids. How should one live? How is one allowed to live? Orchids provides viewers with a living example, confronting them with the conventions to which they themselves are probably subject. The narrator’s elucidations of family, love, and relationships are illustrated with a slide show made up of found footage, which is thematically clocked to the narration. Instead of the family photo album, the viewer sees media images from newspapers, magazines, films, and the Internet. In their confrontation with the personal views of a model of an unconventional life, they subvert the visual and narrative canon that influences our notions of normality. Throughout the work, the images—some of which are in semantic correspondence to the narrative, while others are in opposition—constitute a continually coherent visual alphabet that offers viewers room to investigate the clichés that underlie their ideas of values. Tess’s work demonstrates that “normal” can also mean “transgender”, and leaves it up to each viewer to question his or her own world of stereotypical images. (Maren Haffke)
* We can only show an excerpt of this work in the online archive. For the complete version, please contact the artist.