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Transformer

A number of artists of the 1970s used cross-dressing as a means to interrogate issues of gender and self-identity. Ulay’s ‘auto-Polaroids’ series, in which the artist presents himself dressed half as male and half as female, employs androgyny to challenge restrictive gender definitions. Conversely, Eleanor Antin, in works such as The King 1972, adopts male dress in order to investigate ideas of gender transformation and masquerade.

The gender play of performance artist Jürgen Klauke goes beyond the appropriation of feminine attributes. He adds prosthetic parts to his body and uses it ‘as a projection surface of multiple identities and sexes’. Transformer 1973 represents the artist’s attempt to simultaneously occupy both male and female identities, resulting in a quasi-alien androgyny similar to the look adopted by glam performers such as Brian Eno and David Bowie.

Concurrent with the pseudo-femininity of glam’s male stars, female artists such as Katharina Sieverding were concerned with their own relationship to feminine stereotypes. Sieverding’s slide installation, also titled Transformer, merges monumental images of her face with that of fellow artist and partner Klaus Mettig, blurring the boundaries between self and other, male and female. Masked by heavy make-up, their coolly stylised faces evoke a decadent glamour.