What a paradox, in the last years of the artist Lorenza Böttner (1959-1994): after struggling not to be buried by tags of transsexuals and the disabled, the time that perhaps he had more public is when he played the mascot of the Paralympic Games of Barcelona, Petra, designed by Xavier Mariscal, a representative character of the integration policies against which he relented tirelessly. "Petra eclipsed Lorenza Böttner as an artist," says philosopher Paul B. Preciado, curator of the exhibition Requiem by the norm, which can be visited at the Image Center of the Virreina until February 3. "Commissioner" is short because, besides bringing Böttner's legacy to the light, he gave him a theoretical body that he drinks from the reflections that the artist made to escape an institutional machine that canceled it. "Lava" It is not a regular show, rescues and gives visibility to a work that has been hidden by the institutionalized history of art, "says Preciado.
Lorenza Böttner was born like Ernst in Chile. At eight, he was amputated by electrocuting when he approached a pole of light to raise a child, and received treatment among German children affected by thalidomide. Then he graduated in plastic arts in Kassel. "What is radical in the work of Lorenza Böttner is not only the content, but also invented a framework of representation in which the body with functional diversity is represented at a distance from medical speeches and freak show "Based on this basis, the work and thought of Böttner are triggered by a" self-sufficiency of an incessant multiplicity ": in the privacy there are some delicate ink designs, some of which include female archetypes. Paint with cake on the street, work on paper that he considers "dance paintings." "Art is a prosthetic extension of the body to produce its identity," emphasizes Preciado.
More contemporary than before
In another aspect of his production, he parodies the posters of nineteenth-century shows of characters with deformities. And in the academic field, in his dissertation he sought references of his work in artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Frida Kahlo. "Lorenza Böttner's work is a reivindication of the life of his own sexuality and his gender transformation," comments Preciado. It overcomes the division between normal and pathological and between male and female. His work is much more contemporary than today. There are artists who have to wait to receive the message of their work. "
The legacy of Böttner, who died due to the complications caused by AIDS, was preserved because his mother kept him at home. Prior to Barcelona, Preciado presented a small selection in the latest edition of Documenta de Kassel, of which Preciado was head of public programs and one of the commissioners. Both Kassel and La Virreina can see one of the pieces of which the curator is more proud to return to light, a giant self-portrait that Böttner painted with traces of his feet. After Barcelona, the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, who already hosted the controversy The beast and the sovereign censored at Macba, will make an expanded version of the sample.
Another feature of Böttner's work is that a "support network" was created, especially when traveling to New York. He wrote to all institutions and contacted all the artists and all the galleries, "even with Andy Warhol." But he did not have institutional visibility: in Germany and New York, where he represented the nightmare in which the American dream could be transformed, it could not go beyond the university context and small rooms. This did not prevent him: in the Documenta of Kassel VII, in 1982, when he was not represented, Böttner went out with pies and paper sheets and was painted in the eyes of everyone. "The art of Lorenza Böttner is a direct action of guerrilla, parasitizing the space of Documenta VII and turning a street into a large exhibition space. The street is the real and vital place in which art develops. People could buy their works and sometimes they gave them, "comments Preciado.