Installation with 16mm / HD, 15 min. and 47 photographs, 2008
Performance: Werner Hirsch
In 1933, during the book burning, the Nazis destroyed the Institute for Sexual Science directed by Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin. It seems obvious that not only the institute but Hirschfeld himself was persecuted, as a Jew and homosexual, but also as someone publicly demanding equal rights for „different bodies“.
Along with his theories on sexology, he published in 1930 ‘Sexology, Pictures’. In more than 800 pages, this book focuses on photographs and drawings of people in drag, crossdressers who ‘pass’ as the other gender, fetishists and SM scenarios, gender ambiguity, even ‘intersex’ animals. This book is the starting point for the installation.
The ﬁlm restages a photograph of the ‘bearded lady’ Annie Jones (1865 – 1902). She lived in the USA and was one of the most famous bearded ladies of her time. She toured throughout the USA and all over Europe, ﬁrst with the Barnum Circus and then later with her own show. The photograph of Annie Jones crosses through two contexts of difference. It travelled from the freak show in the Barnum Circus, where she was presented as a ‘wonder’ or a ‚freak‘ (for a fee), to the medical theater, where she was shown in Hirschfeld’s book as a potential ‘patient.’
Director of photography: Bernadette Paassen
Sound: Karin Michalski
Set photography: Andrea Thal
Color Grading: Mathias Behrens (Waveline)
Sound Design: Rashad Becker
Information on photographs:
Reproduced from: Magnus Hirschfeld, 'Geschlechtskunde, Bilderteil', Berlin 1930