Katalin Ladik


Venue: Haus der Kunst Museum, Munich
Date: Mar 03 – Sep 10, 2023

"If we are the most vulnerable in our poetry, we shall pour our whole bodies into it." – Katalin Ladik 

Ooooooooo-pus is the first survey exhibition in Germany of the work of Katalin Ladik. The work of the trailblazing artist (b. 1942, Novi Sad) has its spiritual and conceptual roots in the multi-ethnic and feminist avant-gardes of former Yugoslavia. Through her work she challenges gender roles and female archetypes, using her body and voice as both instrument and medium.

Ladik Katalin’s birthplace Novi Sad, a city in the former Yugoslavia (now Serbia), has long been a conduit between the Balkans and parts of Central and Eastern Europe. The multilingual demographics of Novi Sad—being majority Serbian and Hungarian—shaped Ladik’s visual approach to language and poetry. Over the course of the 1960s, Ladik became an integral part of the Novi Sad literary and artistic avant-garde. Moreover, in her performances, Ladik engaged the folkloric and nationalistic discourses prevalent in that region with great irony and piercing critique. 

For Ladik, the body engenders poetry. It is a site of self-representation that she has consistently explored in her performances. She positioned herself at the intersection of various established and new performance traditions engaging in happenings, rituals, and photo-performance. Ladik was also successful as a film and stage actress, and often played feminine ideals and female archetypes. 

Her visual poems—collages that include sewing patterns, sheet music, and found objects such as circuit boards from radios and kitchen appliances—function also as musical scores. They explore connections between the voice and image while expanding language through phonetic experiments. Language is at the heart of Katalin Ladik’s practice. Her expansive approach to poetry materialises on the pages of her books, in her musical scores, and through concrete poems and visual collages. The latter are accompanied by sonic interpretations that show the artist’s extraordinary vocal range. 

In the exhibition, a red thread leads from Ladik’s sewing machine in the first gallery through the entire exhibition to her sculpture Follow me into Mythology (2017). Another conduit is the sound, which is central to Haus der Kunst’s 2023 programme, and which forms the connective tissue of Ladik’s multifaceted oeuvre. Each of the exhibition’s three rooms has its own soundscape based on Ladik’s visual and phonic poetry, making “Ooooooooo-pus” an exhibition that needs to be heard as much as to be seen.

Curators: Sarah Johanna Theurer, Hendrik Folkerts, Manuela Hillmann

Photographers: Julian Baumann, Milena Wojhan

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