ArtThat Now: Cooper & Gorfer, “Sirens” @ Fotografiska Shanghai

"Sirens," by the artistic duo Cooper & Gorfer from 25th April, 2024 to 4th August, 2024, delves into the complicated relationship between feminine traits in established social concepts and the power deep in female body.

In the maze of human expression, threads of myth and reality intertwine. “Sirens,” the premiere domestic solo exhibition by the artistic duo Cooper & Gorfer at Fotografiska Shanghai from 25th April, 2024 to 4th August, 2024, delves into the complicated relationship between feminine traits in established social concepts and the power deep in female body.

The Wrestle, 2022 © Cooper & Gorfer

Women have found expressions for power and rage over the centuries. Sirens, under definition, can mean a piece of equipment that makes a very loud warning sound, an enchanting or menacing monster in Greek mythology, but also a captivating, attractive but dangerous temptress. Depending on how you choose to interpret Sirens, it can be danger, or it can be warning you from danger. A deceptive idiosyncrasy.

The siren, a definition that navigates between a warning and allure, threat and enchantment, is interpreted with delicate understanding by Cooper & Gorfer. In this vein, Cooper & Gorfer’s “Sirens” presents a fictional tribe composed of women in various states of transformation. Drawing from an extensive repository of female bodies and rituals, the artists conjure a mythological dynasty, inspired by the immortal goddesses’ transformative prowess, wielding power, magic, and vengeance, while also revealing the undeniable strength hidden behind vulnerability.

“Sirens” is more than a visual feast; it’s a profound narrative that bursts forth from the canvas, suspended before the viewers in a manner both inviting and warning. These sirens are alluring, enchanting, and potentially perilous, manifesting women of supernatural might who transcend the frames that seek to contain them, presenting themselves in monumental proportions with the capacity to overwhelm with a mere gesture.

The Orange Embrace, 2023©️Cooper & Gorfer

The exhibition’s auditory landscape, with its allusions to faint maritime foghorns, the abstract sounds of domestic labor, and even the mumbling of a woman getting dressed, creates a captivating ambience. This soundscape, teeming with fractioned whispers from myriad realms, draws the visitor into a space of enchantment and introspection.

As we wander through the exhibition, let the the sirens guide you through their stories—a melody about rebellion, enchantment, and caution that lies between danger and the sacred, embodying the endless path of “becoming.” Welcome to “SIRENS,” where myth meets reality, and every whisper carries the weight of the world.

Pushing Eve, 2022©️Cooper & Gorfer

The line between what is real and what is imagined is mirrored in Cooper & Gorfer’s technique. From unique mix media collages to artworks arising from in camera sets – photography is blended with painting and caricature, visualizing and illustrating the protective layers we mask ourselves with. The initial idea for constructing the figures came from using the surrealist game Cadavre Exquis, where the artists created a shared body by dividing it into two concealed halves. Resulting in unexpected associations and proportion. Bodies that are never entirely their own, with shared limbs that belong to several women simultaneously.

Cooper & Gorfer’s imagery stems from personal accounts of vulnerability, playing with our own inner demons and desires, and how they manifest in the body. Breaking out of preconceived notions of femininity, the work is a bold declaration of the right of the female body to occupy space, both literally and figuratively. Loving mystical and avenging, the sirens of Cooper & Gorfer are a testimony to vulnerability and a force to be reckoned with.

The exhibition is curated by Johan Vikner, Global Director of Exhibitions at Fotografiska in close collaboration with the artist duo. Additional support from Fotografiska Shanghai by Peipei Han, Director of Exhibitions and Yimei Wang, Exhibitions Manager.

About Artist

Cooper & Gorfer comprises the artists Sarah Cooper (US, 1974) and Nina Gorfer (AT, 1979) who began their collaboration in 2006. Their work centers around themes of illusion, memory, and dislocation, illustrating the malleability of identity through layered pictorial collages of the female experience. Known for their distinct hybrid portraits of women and immersive worlds with socio-political undertones, the duo’s work departs in photography, and ranges from physically layered collages with painted and embroidered materials, to photographs of disassembled images in different states of ephemeral montage. The complexities of their subjects are reflected in the process and the fragmentation of the artwork’s surfaces.

Their works have been exhibited at institutions such as Fotografiska Stockholm and NYC, Fotografiska NYC, the National Museum of Photography (Denmark), Museum Angewandte Kunst (Frankfurt, Germany), as well as at art fairs like Art Basel Miami Beach and the Bridge Art Fair New York.

On-going Exhibitions

Cooper & Gorfer: Sirens
Date: 2024.04.25 – 2024.08.04

Go With the Flow
Date: 2024.03.29 – 2024.06.23

Sabrina Ratté: Inflorescences
Date: 2024.03.29 – 2024.06.23

Elliott Erwitt: Through the Playful Eyes of Elliott Erwitt
Date: 2024.03.01 – 2024.06.02

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