Ulrike Rosenbach

Ulrike Rosenbach launches an attack on herself as the Other. In her famous video piece Glauben Sie nicht, dass ich eine Amazone bin (Don’t You Think I’m an Amazon), she superimposes her own face on that of a reproduction of Stefan Lochner’s Madonna of the Rose Bower (c. 1450). She shoots a total of fifteen arrows into the face of the Madonna, which is also her own. In this act of self-aggression, Rosenbach wears a white, Amazonesque, full-body suit, and in her act of releasing the arrows, she displays both calm and concentration, as if performing a ritual. Although she plays a double role, as it were—a gentle, childlike Madonna; a brave, dangerous Amazon—her work is also about her own artistic persona: what expectations and roles does the (art) world offer her? How do images of women from different centuries— mythical, religious, contemporary—overlap with one another here? To what extent has she long ago internalized them? Can she still slip out of these roles? Rosenbach’s answer: ‘I am a Madonna. I am an Amazon. I am a Venus. I am all of these and none of them’. When Rosenbach premiered this piece in 1975 at the Biennale des Jeunes in Paris, and when she repeated the action for the video piece, the artist dealt here with different types of gazes— the self-reflexive gaze, the male gaze, society’s gaze. In the process, she retained control over the gaze directed at her, while at the same time inevitably surrendering to it.