Sophia Süßmilch

Placenta paradise, 2019
Oil on cotton
170 x 220 cm
unique

Photo: Rudolf Strobl

Human life is full of literal abstractions. One state of being precedes the next one. Metamorphosis, the process of becoming, the move from a particular bodily state to another is an infinite but not solely linear process. A cocoon temporarily provides shelter, nurtures and protects what is inside, before splitting open and setting free the life it has helped to grow. Although Sophia Süßmilch’s recent work approaches the cocoon from a literal point of view, there is no real cocoon in her work. Instead, she performs a suspended state of being with her photographic and painted works; it is, as if she looks back to sustain the imagination of becoming, of moving ahead of oneself.

In doing so, she tackles the cocoon for real and casts aside its metaphorically complex burden of being in between two states. Her triptychonic comic series Three Stages of Life (2019) takes up the haunting issue of how childhood, puberty and adulthood are connected and exposes their clichés from a fleshly inside. She depicts three distinct early stages of life that give form to abstract bodily ways of human becoming; simultaneously, she also anticipates a certain kind of ambiguity. What was once a lively eating and moving caterpillar in Mediocre Childhood, raps itself up in a cocoon, entitled Fuck Puberty, before becoming a carefree, prickly butterfly making its way through Depressing Adulthood.

What adulthood means for her becomes clearer in her highly sexually-charged photographic works. In Teddy’s girl, she sits comfortably inside a gashed 2.40m high teddy bear, with her legs straddled over the teddy’s legs and her breasts pulled over her tight nude bodysuit. A completely opposite attitude towards her parental upbringing is staged in the photo, A mother is the problem of all problems, where she bends over her biological mother, enveloping her with a long-ragged blonde hair wig. Emphasising te(da)ddy rather than her smothering mother, Süßmilch depicts herself in Real feminists hate dick with a banana ensemble arranged to a banana crown that frames her whole head. Although this seems to appropriate Josephine Baker’s famous banana skirt dance, an intentionally eroticised and objectified performance of a black women, Süßmilch parades here the Eurocentric image of the phallus, and puts an additional unpeeled piece of this sweet fruit in between her legs—her own version of cake, that is yet to be eaten.

The painting Placenta Paradise chews on the bodily states of organs. Freely hanging and spread out globules of placenta are painted in different shapes, sizes, and colours that look all different. Süßmilch’s fleshly entrails do not seem to follow any logic, as the figurative body organs are composed only of abstracted livers, too large or small intestines, undefinable forms of biles, spleens, small guts, and lungs. Chaos in order, her organs are literally abstract in form.

Despite the agitating literalness that is at play in these images, Süßmilch’s works translate and perform visceral aesthetic experiences onto cotton and photographic paper. They diffract bodily aha-moments; for example, the psychedelically coloured painting of an abstract figure painted against a black background calls yoga the neoliberal weapons of late capitalism, whilst her romantic colour coupling of blue and yellow within one field of colour depicts the shell of a pink snail moving towards the left boarder of the picture plane. Süßmilch’s tongue-in-cheek humour is enmeshed with a melancholic and aggressive strain as the gut feeling is the drive that moves against its own cosmically sensed human animality. Reading Sophia Süßmilch’s work allegorically, which means to draw attention to what kind of bond she establishes between two things, living or still, literally documented or abstractly real, demonstrates an intestinally rooted resistance towards becoming another mother; her body of work shows nothing but her very own desiring self.

Lisa Moravec

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Works

Works

Biography

Sophia Süßmilch

Lives and works in Munich and Vienna.

1983 born in Dachau, Germany
2006 Class of Prof. Stephan Huber at Academy of Fine Arts Munich
2011-2013 Class of Prof. Ashley Hans Scheirl for contextual painting at Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
2015 Diploma as master student of Stephan Huber at Academy of Fine Arts Munich

Awards & Scholarships

2008 Scholarship Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation

2011 Research scholarship der Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation for USA

2018 Bayrischer Sponsorshipaward

Exhibitions (Selection)

2022Süßmilch und die Ausstellung des Kleinen Mannes – mit Felix Burger als der Kleine Mann
2021IM EINKLANG MIT MUTTER NATUR, Galerie Russi Klenner, Berlin (S)
Curated By – SPATZI SPEZIAL : Bei Langeweile öfter mal das ABC aufsagen (G)
Lovely Creatures – Tiere, Monster, Menschen in der Kunst der Gegenwart, Ludwig Forum Aachen (G)
paradise lost #gendershift, DG Kunstraum | Deutsche Gesellschaft für christliche Kunst, Munich (G)
Mixed Pickles #9, Galerie Ruttowski, München (G)
Höhenrausch, OÖ Kulturquartier, Linz (G)
Die ganze Wahrheit, curated by Johanna Adam, MARTINETZ, Cologne (G)
PLEASURE ACTIVISM, Tiroler Künstler*schaft, Innsbruck (G)
Im Einklang mit Mutter Natur, Galerie Russi Klenner, Berlin (S)
Spatzi ich fahr zum Nordpol zu einer Meteorologenkonferenz, aber Schwachköpfe wie du dürfen nicht mit. Ich lass dir ein paar Wachsmalkreiden da dann bist du beschäftigt, mit Valentin Wagner, Büro Weltausstellung, Vienna (S)
2020„Jahresgaben“, Neuer Aachener Kunstverein (G)
„Jahresgaben“, Kunstverein München (G)
„Empört Euch“, Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (D)Groupshow
„TROST im jüngsten Tag“, Galerie der KünstlerInnen, Munich (D)Groupshow
„GEBENEDEIT SEI DIE FRUCHT DEINES LEIBES“, Galerie Martinetz, Cologne (D)Soloshow
„Amish Quilt meets modern Art“, Textilmuseum Augsburg, Augsburg (D)Groupshow
„Perspektiven Attersee“, Attersee am Attersee, Austria (A)Groupshow
„Ja Ja Nein Nein Vielleicht“, 15. Rischart Projekt, Gasteig, Munich (D)Groupshow
„Bei Langeweile öfter mal das ABC aufsagen“, Neue Galerie Graz, Graz, Austria (A)Soloshow
2019„Mixed pickles 6“, Ruttkowski;68, Cologne (D)Grouphow
„Bayerische Kunstförderpreise 2018“, Galerie der Künstler, Munich (D)Groupshow
„IF YOU THINK YOU ARE A PERFORMANCE ARTIST BUT YOU’RE REALLY JUST A MEME“, Tanzquartier Wien, Vienna (A)Soloshow
„God is a concrete creature & other system failures“, Salon no 6, Vienna (A)Soloshow
„Who the F*ck is Sophia Süßmilch“, Büro Weltausstellung, Vienna (A)Soloshow
„Kokon“, Galerie Krobath Wien, Vienna (A)Soloshow
„No method“, Yarc Gallery, Gwangju, South Korea, Groupshow
2018„Die ersten Jahre der Professionalität 37“, Galerie der Künstler, Munich (D)Groupshow
„Post Feminism“, Galerie Störpunkt, Munich (D)Groupshow
„Kann ich mal die Braun?“, Belvedere21, Vienna (A)Soloshow
„Das Glück der Erde“, Galerie AaCollections, Vienna (A)Soloshow
„Alles muss man selber machen“, Edel Extra, Nuremberg (D)Soloshow
2017„Unser Dorf soll schöner werden“, „Traube“, St.Ulrich/Italy (IT)Soloshow
„Scheiss auf Metaphern“, Ateliertheater, Vienna (A)Soloshow
2016„Last Show“, Alte Kugelschreiberfabrik, Vienna (A)Groupshow
„Schlechte Entscheidungen“, Kunstarkaden, Munich (D)Groupshow
2015„ BODYPAINTING SEMINAR“ , Galerie „Aa collections“, Vienna (A)Soloshow
2014„ ICH- Sophia Süßmilch“, Galerie, Fetti amore, Leipzig (D)Soloshow
„ZIMMER FREI“, Hotel Mariandl, Munich (D)Groupshow
„SAMPLING WOMAN“, Westwerk, Leipzig (D)Groupshow
2013„the keys to her place“, VBKOE, Vienna (A)Groupshow
„FIRST WE TAKE MANHATTAN“, Rathausgalerie, Munich (D)Groupshow
„Der essentielle Moment“, masc foundation, Vienna (A)Groupshow
2012 „TOD“, Gesellschaft für christliche Kunst , Munich (D)Groupshow
„VIENNA SAUSAGE“, Galerie AaCollections, Wien (A)Soloshow
„VACANCY/NO VACANCY“ , Akademiegalerie, Munich (G)Soloshow
2011:“I had dreamed the perfect painting“,Kunstpavillon, Munich (D)Groupshow
“STARTERS”, Lothringer 13/Halle, Munich (D)Groupshow
“BURGERS SIMULTANHALLE”, Simultanhalle, Cologne (D)Groupshow
2010“FLUXUS 3000.THE FUTURE OF PERFORMANCE ART”,
Lothringer 13/Laden, Munich (D)Groupshow
2009“Der große P”, Katholische Akademie, Munich (D)Groupshow
“Wunderkammer-die Ratten stürmen das sinkende Schiff”,
Die Färberei, Munich (D)Groupshow
2008“Gutes Amerika-Böses Amerika”, Galerie Noah, Augsburg (D)Groupshow
“6000 Jahre München”, Galerie der Künstler, Munich (D)Groupshow
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