The exhibition The Body as Protest highlights the photographic representation of the human body - a motif that has provided a wide variety of photographers with an often radical means of expression for their visual protest against social, political, but also aesthetic norms.
The show centers on an outstanding group of works by the artist John Coplans from the holdings of the Albertina. In his serially conceived large-format pictures, the photographer focused on the rendering of his own nude body, which he defamiliarized through fragmentation far from current forms of idealization. Relying on extremely sophisticated lighting, he presented himself in a monumental and sculptural manner over many years.
His photographs can be understood as amalgamations of theoretical and artistic ideas, which in the show are accentuated through selective juxtapositions with works by other important exponents of body-related art.
The body also features prominently in the work of other artists such as Hannah Wilke, Ketty La Rocca, Hannah Villiger, Vito
Acconci, Bruce Nauman, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Miyako Ishiuchi. By means of these positions, such diverse themes as self-dramatization,
conceptual photography, feminism, body language, and even transience are analyzed within an expanded artistic range. Moreover,
the exhibition offers a differentiated view of the critical depiction of the human body as it has been practiced since 1970.