Reforming Mirror

After Bellmer relaunches with Reforming Mirror, works by Germaine Krull and Kylie Lockwood.

Photographer and activist Germaine Krull (1897-1985) was widely recognized in many areas of photography including photojournalism, portraiture, and fashion. But her continued focus on gender and politics have remained the most influential aspects within these varied subjects. An unconventional photographer who embraced many roles—commercialism and the avant-garde, male and female roles, capitalism and communism—it is not surprising that Krull was very fond of Jean Cocteau’s label of herself as a “reforming mirror.” The female body—hand gestures, lesbian erotica, and double exposure images—is the central theme of these photographs, and mark her as a pioneering Modernist photographer.

Working primarily with porcelain, Kylie Lockwood’s sculptures are formed using cast parts of her body. In the piece titled Coil Uncoil, a porcelain cast of the artist’s back is rolled, resembling an uncircumcised penis precariously poised on a folded porcelain “rug,” leaving the viewer to conjure a pre- or post-coitus scenario. Lockwood’s meticulous positioning of these disembodied vessels places the viewer in an unstable encounter that is always seemingly just before an eruption or the moments after the collapse.

Similarly, in Krull’s Etude de mains photographs, fingers protrude outward, or fall limply and awkwardly. The erotic nature of hands is performed, perhaps an attempt to relocate and replace the phallus.

Both artists construct sensuality as an experience of pleasure that is intricately tied to risk, discomfort and vulnerability. Their awareness of this entanglement of opposites is acutely found in the language of the body. The overlap of edges, being between two states, is what defines and redefines experiences of sensuality, pleasure, and desire. The works of Krull and Lockwood further a productive feminist dialogue by contributing to, and reforming, the aesthetics of these complex states.

Cast of Navel

Kylie Lockwood
Cast of Navel, 2013
Pigmented porcelain

Krull 1

Germaine Krull
Hands of Martha Lydis, 1930
Silver gelatin print

Kylie Lockwood
Digestive Rest, 2012
Porcelain, wax and floor pillow

Germaine Krull
Etude de mains, 1938
Silver gelatin print

Kylie Lockwood
Leaning Peak, 2009
Porcelain and wood

Germaine Krull
Les Amies, 1924
Silver gelatin print

Kylie Lockwood
Untitled, 2013
Pigmented porcelain and stainless steel

Germaine Krull
Etude de mains, 1929
Silver gelatin print

Kylie Lockwood
Coil Uncoil, 2010
Porcelain

Kylie Lockwood
Remnant Sweep, 2010
Porcelain and broomcorn

Germaine Krull
Nude, 1929
Silver gelatin print