Magdalena Kallenberger

Die Wände hochgehen / Crawling (Up) the Walls

There is a German saying “Ich könnte die Wände hochgehen” meaning, I am so angry I could go up the walls. And I was very angry after I had moved back to Berlin, Germany in 2017. Before, I had lived and worked for ten years as an artist and educator in Cairo, Egypt and Tehran, Iran. It was a complete reverse culture shock on the one hand to be faced with in my opinion completely outdated social expectations with relation to my status as mother of an infant child and on the other hand I was very much shocked to observe and witness so much political mismanagement, corruption, political failure and mere incompetence everywhere in Berlin.

Therefore I started an extensive research on postures/gestures of resistance and looked into feminist manifestos from recent decades and the demands contained therein during different eras. Most of them are till now unfulfilled and buried in archives, which themselves seem to have fallen prey to ravages of time. It literally goes up the walls: because most of the current demands against inequality, racism, classism, sexism, and heteronormativity have long been raised in different eras and contexts by myriad courageous forerunners. Why is there hardly any connection to past experiences, demands, and struggles?

The three staged photographs show me the artist “going up the walls” – in the face of a series of objects like sausages, cucumbers, and eggs, which as satirising sexualised placeholders reference my rage about ongoing patriarchal structures and the resulting social injustices. Moreover, in their extreme staging of poses, objects, and attributions of meaning, the photocompositions become monuments themselves and simultaneously, with their staged poses, a satire of traditional personified monuments.

In the continuation I have expanded this series as a performative action to be executed on locations of political mismanagement and failure like e.g. the construction site of the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport BER, or in front of the luxury building complex “Flottwell Living” which was constructed on a protected area that was supposed to stay undeveloped in order to function as a air corridor for the center parts of the city. I was very happy when friends send me from different parts of the world photos of themselves, performing the same gesture of resistance inverting a monument.

About the Artist

Artist Website

Magdalena Kallenberger is a visual artist, researcher and writer working across film, photography and installation. She holds an MFA in Media Art and a BFA both from the University of Arts Berlin. She served as Professor of Practice at the American University in Cairo (2016-2017) and Lecturer for time-based media (2010-16) at the German University in Cairo. Since 2018 Kallenberger is a Ph.D. candidate at the Bauhaus University Weimar. She also is a fellow at the Bauhaus Research School and the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation. Her practice-based Ph.D. “Re/Production: Chronopolitics, Affective Labor, Care and the Maternal” takes diverse forms of research materials as a starting point to (re-) position the maternal as a space of social, political, cultural and economic conflict. Her artistic language combines art historical references with autobiographical elements and personal narratives, using humour and poetical fiction as a subversive method. She is co-founder and active member of the feminist art collective MATERNAL FANTASIES.

Her works produced in solo and collective constellations have been shown at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlinische Galerie, nGbK neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, alpha nova galerie futura, Pavlov‘s Dog, SCHAU FENSTER – Raum für Kunst, n.b.k. Berlin. Camera Austria Graz, Short Film Festival Oberhausen, African Biennale of Photography –Rencontres de Bamako, Mali. CIC Contemporary Image Collection, Darb 1718, Cairotronica – festival of Electronic and New Media arts, Cairo, Egypt. Fak‘ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival, Johannesburg, South Africa. Able Baker Contemporary‚ Portland ME, USA. Africa Museum, Berg en Dal, The Netherlands. WINDOW gallery, Winnipeg, Canada etc.