University of Applied Sciences Europe
Contemporary, female* clowning: A niche of feminism. We all know clowns. Do we? Today, the figure is mostly associated with a cliche. Its affiliation to the circus (such as its‘ characteristic red nose) seems to be inseparable from the character. Additionally, its‘ scary depiction is gaining in popularity. Often used for racist or sexist behaviour in politics and media, the figure has even become a symbol of toxic masculinity. However, apart from the associated cliche and the clowns’ medial representation, there is more to explore about the clown than its‘ red nose and wide grin: Clowns have been part of society for centuries. In different forms, they appeared to break conventions, live contradiction, defy directives, and cross borders, as they show the absurdity of normality. Being open to failure and playing with the darkest places of their soul, they want to relieve society of social constraints. They teach us to embrace the ridiculous, to drop the masks that we use in society while uncovering social and political structures. The clown figure has been playing a major influential role acting as a mirror of society. How come such a valuable role is mainly occupied by men? Which society is mirrored and who profits from the liberation of the social constraints? Did the lack of perspectives lead to the symbol, the clown has become today? „CLOWNESSE.“ looks for broader perspectives in the contemporary clownesse – a theme which the sociologist Delphine Cézard has been researching since 2015. According to Cézard, the characteristics of clowns proceed against female stereotypes. This not only leads to associating the term „clown“ with males but also induces females to stay away from the department of clowning for a long time. A society producing stereotypes, which’s thinking patterns are based on a patriarchal, discriminating system, offers the clownesse an opportunity for playing with difference and diversity today. In her being as a fool or an ugly Buffon, she can do what the male medial clown is less and less able to do: confuse, and thus come closer to the origin of the figure. . Inspired by the first clown portraits oft the 19s century, I want to refer to the social status they once enjoyed and pay tribute to their artform again. Analogously photographed and uncut, the portraits depict the clownesses between character and private person, allow the boundaries between role and everyday life to be mixed up and tell their own truth about the world. The photographs were all taken in Germany and are presented in an abandoned villa in an unknown location.