Bettina Semmer

Male Arm 2022

Oil on canvas

90 x 120cm

„The Assisted Painting Series was produced during the two years that the German artist Bettina Semmer was an MA student at Goldsmiths College in London. The title arises from a method of production in which the artist shared the space of the canvas with her daugh- ter Babette whose contributions to the process began when she was one and a half years old and ended when she turned three. […] It seemed to me that The Assisted Paintings offered a theoretical way forward for female painters trapped in the immobilising significance of the gesture as a culturally loaded (and gendered) term. What is more, the fact that the paintings were produced by a mother and daughter rendered them visual representations of that relationship with the potential to be seen, understood and theorised in ways that exceed the static configurations of that relationship pro-duced by the discourses of patriarchy. […]
Another point to the story concerns the question of authorship. How are we meant to view paint-ings that are made in collaboration with a child? Such a practice undermines a whole set of ideo-logical beliefs and financial exchanges that govern the western art market. Despite the feminist insistence on crediting the collaborative role of women artists such as Jeannne- Claude or Coosje Van Bruggen in their partner’s projects, there is still resistance to full and proper attribution. What are we to make of a female artist, already operating from a marginalised position by virtue of her sex, openly acknowledging her daughter’s contribution to the work? Such a double insist-ence ensures relegation to the outer margins because it exposes the notions of authorship and artistic agency that prop up economic value. […]”

Artist bio:

Bettina Elisabeth Semmer, born in Düsseldorf, became known in the 1980s with international exhibitions, films and public interventions. Her studies with Polke and Richter, in the film class in Hamburg and at Goldsmiths University in London contributed to the fact that her work became a complex reflection on her respective medium. Her recent activities include murals and workshops in the Western Sahara refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria, participatory works and interventions in the city of Potsdam (The Good Life 2015, Pleasure Ground – medicinal plants in collaboration with the Syrian pharmacist Nadjat Rusdom 2016) and the Exhibition "Cosmic Online" in the project space Museum Teufelsberg, Berlin. Exhibitions such as "The 80s - Figurative Painting in Germany" in the Städel Museum in Frankfurt and Neue Wilde in the Groninger Museum in Holland led to acquisitions by the museums. In addition to her artistic practice, Semmer worked for 14 years as a teacher at secondary schools in Berlin, as well as seven years as CvD and editor-in-chief for magazines in London and Baden-Baden. Witch hunts and matriarchy, urine recycling and medicinal plants are her hobbies. As a yoga teacher and creativity trainer, she has been giving workshops since 2010. Most recently, she studied environmental ethics at the Humboldt University in Berlin.