The public debate around “manspreading” may have gained public attention via Tumblr around 2013, but Marianne Wex’s encyclopaedic analysis of this particularly gendered physiology was first presented in the extensive project Let’s Take Back Our Space: ‘Female’ and ‘Male’ Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures at NGBK way back in 1977. While celebrated at the time, the German artist’s career has only recently seen a revival, and now this notable work has been brought back to Berlin via Tanya Leighton. Wex’s interest in body language led her from painting to photography and throughout the 1970s she documented the streets of her native Hamburg to produce a collection of more than 5000 original images of men and women sitting, standing and posing. She presents them in grids alongside examples from art history catalogues and mass media. Together, this historical flattening puts neoclassical sculpture in conversation with contemporary street life and exposes gender norms hardly perceptible in the everyday. Wex concludes that “body language and bodily ideals between sexes have become increasingly divergent.” One look at Tumblr proves that sentiment is still relevant today.
Let’s Take Back Our Space: ‘Female’ and ‘Male’ Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures Through Feb 17