Let's Take Back Our SpaceADDPMP110
The German artist Marianne Wex started out as a painter before producing her encyclopaedic photographic project “Let’s Take Back Our Space”, one of the great unsung works of 1970s feminist history and cultural analysis. Marianne Wex bases her work on the assumption that body language is a result of sex-based, patriarchal socialization, affecting all of our other “feminine” and “masculine” role behavior.
Born in Hamburg in 1937, Wex studied at the city’s University of Fine Arts, where she later taught for seventeen years. In 1979, she published Let’s Take Back Our Space as a book in both a German and English edition, to accompany an exhibition in the Neue Gesellschaft fair Bildende Kiinste in Berlin, in connection with the show Women Artists International, 1877 to 1977. It is an in-depth visual survey comprised of 5,000 to 6,000 photographs of body postures, taken between 1974 and 1977, assembled into dozens of thematic grids: Seated persons—leg and feet; arm and hand positions; standing persons—leg and feet; arm and hand positions; people sitting and laying on the ground; arm and leg positions; and so on. The images were culled from a huge range of sources—re-photographed advertisements, reportage, fashion magazines, pornography, studio portraits, the history of art—and many were taken on the streets of Hamburg by Wex, who proposes that our smallest, most unconscious gestures speak volumes about the power relations of gender in daily life. The work was expanded to include an extensive historical section for the book, where Marianne Wex investigates the body language shown in sculptures of the last 3,000 to 4,000 years, and comes to the conclusion that the ideals of body language and body forms have never been so different between the sexes as they are today.