In her series Killing Me Softly (2004) Claudia Reinhardt recreated the suicides of famous women artists, placing herself as the model. In her most recent photographic work Dødspar, Liebespaare she shifts her attention to couples – portrayed by non-professional actors – who committed suicide together.
“The ending of a life is an action that occurs in the absolute absence of love. In Dødspar, Liebespaare love is not absent. Quite the opposite. The last, lonely path is walked in company. Almost a romantic concept, if not for the dreadful circumstances that lead to the decision. “
To give attention to death is to be interested in life. Who were these people? What desperation and crisis propelled them to take this action?
For the couple Bernard and Georgette Cazes, it was their insistence upon the „Privilegs des Humanen“ (Jean Améry) – their shared suicide was a protest against the prohibition of active euthanasia. Critical letters to the French government were left in the room in which they died in a famous, Parisian luxury hotel. They sparked an international debate on the subjects of dying and human dignity. In many cases, political and social pressures were the causes of suicide. For the families Gottschalk and Klepper, for instance, it was the threat of deportation and extermination at the hands of the Nazis. Stefan Zweig was able to emigrate out of Germany, but could not bear the “destruction of his spiritual homeland of Europe”. His wife Lotte, only thirty years of age, followed him into death. The dramatic death of Heinrich von Kleist immortalised the appreciated poet and his life-long partner Henriette Vogel. Their bodies were found shot at Berlin’s Lake Wannsee. Less well known is the married couple Michael and Monika Stahl, who gassed themselves together in their car. In their suicide note they explained their choice as one made out of fear of their own social decline. The Bildzeitung newspaper described them as the first victims of Germany’s Harz IV social benefit reforms.
Claudia Reinhardt was born in South Germany in 1964. She lives and works currently in Berlin and Norway.
Opening on friday the 14th of October 2014, at 17.00-20.00.