LIKE RATS LEAVING A SINKING SHIP, 2012, Single-channel video, 24 minutes, 33 seconds. Film Still: Courtesy of the artist.
The discomfiting relation of bodies to nations, boundaries, and medical diagnosis processes is pointed in German artist Vika Kirchenbauer’s video LIKE RATS LEAVING A SINKING SHIP. Layering discontinuous video and audio segments, Kirchenbauer explores the way that trans*identity is deeply surveilled and regulated by the state and social institutions. In her work, “[Kirchenbauer] explores opacity in relation to representation of the ʻotheredʼ through ostensibly contradictory methods like exaggerated explicitness, oversharing and perversions of participatory culture.” In this work, Kirchenbauer “overshares,” reading directly from medical reports about her own gender dysmorphic diagnosis.Having become medicalized, the trans* community is constantly surveilled, watched, and studied. Kirchenbauer subverts “the power relationships of psychiatry,” however, through incoherence—the power to know, to understand, to diagnostically “get it” are not afforded to us as viewers, but are controlled, in fact, by Kirchenbauer—the observed, the “other.”
Vika Kirchenbauer (b. *1983) is an artist and writer currently working and residing in Berlin. In her work she explores opacity in relation to representation of the “othered” through ostensibly contradictory methods like exaggerated explicitness, oversharing and perversions of participatory culture. She examines the troublesome nature of “looking” and “being looked at” in larger contexts including labour within post-fordism and the experience economy, modern drone warfare and its insistence on unilateral staring, the power relationships of psychiatry, performer/spectator relations, participatory culture, contemporary art display and queer representational politics as well as the everyday life experience of ambiguously gendered individuals.