03.02.24 - 03.03.24
A set of men's underwear hangs prominently in the Palace on Worringer Platz. The oversized undershirt and men's briefs made of the finest double-ribbed cotton stretch from one side to the other, unfolding as if carelessly hung on the line. Shouldn't dirty laundry actually be washed at home? After all, the bottom layer is normally hidden from public view, a uniform protected from prying eyes in the private sphere. It forms the innermost textile boundary to the naked body, nestling over the first like a second skin, covering the naked vulnerability. Although the fine rib sees the light of day when it dries, it usually remains hidden behind closed bedroom doors, in dark cellar vaults and dusty attics. In Janis Löhrer's "Herrenwäsche" exhibition, however, the underwear emerges from an intimate sphere into the public eye, remaining in the glass exhibition space on the permeable border between inside and outside, evoking the impression of a non-existent body that might otherwise be concealed underneath.
The first men's underpants of this type were introduced as jockey briefs in the 1930s and have since dominated the market together with boxer shorts, establishing themselves as a globally reproduced, masculine classic. The tight-fitting briefs give the wearer a feeling of security and stability. Packaged in fine rib, they promise to be both sporty, functional with an opening and hygienically white. After all, everything that detracts from the immaculate image of pristine white underwear can be washed clean at 60 degrees. Not quite, because fine rib underwear has certain clichés of masculinity attached to it. The undershirt is also known as the "wifebeater" and is associated with domestic violence, while the men's briefs are acknowledged with a smile as "tighty whitey". But is it ridiculous for the male body to show itself intimately and vulnerably? Or is it not time for a new image of physicality? One that goes beyond shame and deals openly with its own imperfection and vulnerability? These are recurring questions in the cross-media work of the artist, who was born in Aachen in 1991.
There is normally no laundry at the central traffic junction at Worringer Platz. But why not? In some other countries, clothes stretched out between building facades and flapping in the wind are even part of the cityscape. It doesn't bother them because it is a sign of home, of being at ease and everyday domesticity. When the close circle of friends and relatives comes to visit, the clothes horse does not necessarily have to make way behind closed doors. The seemingly flawless image of oneself projected to the outside world has long since given way to the real self at home. So hanging up laundry is also a gesture of appropriation. A gesture of "Here I am human, here I am allowed to be. "Herrenwäsche" transports the most intimate textiles into public space, challenges viewers of all genders to reflect and denounces our shameful treatment of our own bodies.
Scepticism towards technical innovations is deeply rooted in society.
What is the automated doll in Hoffmann's work can be seen today in particular in the discussion about artificial intelligence, which often focuses on negative aspects. But perhaps change also holds an opportunity, depending on how it is used? A chance to grasp the world in a new way, to perceive things differently, to get in touch with people. Pons i Miras' house, built of flaming walls, glows like a fire. A house that does not isolate,
does not exclude, but provides a home in a sphere
between the physical and the non-physical.
The artist Janis Löhrer, born in Aachen in 1991 and living in Düsseldorf, is a founding member of the AURA Kunstraum Düsseldorf since 2021. He completed his studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 2012 to 2019. Janis Löhrer showed his work in various exhibitions, including at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, in 2022 and at K21, Düsseldorf, in 2021. Further exhibitions took place at Elsa Art Space, Bielefeld, at Baustelle Schaustelle, Essen, and at the 77th International Bergische Kunstausstellung at the Kunstmuseum Solingen. He also took part in exhibitions at AURA Kunstraum, Düsseldorf, all in 2023.
Artist: Janis Löhrer
Text: Julia Stellmann
Foto: Christian Ahlborn
Plakat: RUNNING WATER
The exhibition is supported by: