Digital C-prints, framed, 50x70cm each, text on the wall 80x120cm, video loop, 2009 Paula Muhr

According to the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, the sense of identity is achieved through the process of alienation, as subject establishes itself through mimicry. Mimicry is a term from biology, which designates the tactics of certain species to imitate the appearance of another species. In order fort his deception to succeed, however, the observer has to occupy a certain position and perspective. The mimics seem to be aware of the fact that they are being observed, and thus perform a kind of mimesis.

The concept of biological mimicry has been broadened to include aesthetic, psychoanalytical, feminist and social references. This supposed mechanism of protection is, according to the French sociologist Roger Callois, a kind of luxury, as the organism through imitation another entity loses its own distinctive features and individuality. On the other hand, mimicry offers the possibility of subversive resistance in the consumer society, which exerts pressure on ist subjects to conform to norms.

The images represents facial and hand gestures, which are codified as standard exercises in the practice of facial gymnastics. Their purpose is, although this remains disputed by some experts, to help firm the face muscles thus gaining a youthful appearance. In some cases, they are promoted as an alternative to face lifting. By enacting these exercises for the camera, in front of a red curtain, which inevitably evokes associations of a theatre stage, I take them out of their original contexts and turn them into ambiguous gestures with multiple possible meanings.

By reenacting facial gymnastics, I undermine the original context of the normative practices, intended at creating docile bodies.