07.01.2020 – 08:40
Current exhibitions at the Museum im Lagerhaus
bis 1. März 2020
Museum im Lagerhaus, St.Gallen
Ovartaci's existence began as a bird of paradise, some 3000 years before Ovartaci's human existence. Whether he/she was male or female at the time, Ovartaci cannot say. Ovartaci was born into human life on 26 September 1894 in Ebeltolf, Denmark, as Louis Marcussen. Early on he was interested in yoga, Buddhism, and literature, and sought to master his body and mind. After completing an apprenticeship as a painter, he emigrated to Argentina. Ovartaci returned to Denmark in a mentally unstable condition, and in 1929 his family saw no choice but to send him to the Risskov psychiatric clinic in Aarhus. In 1932 Ovartaci was transferred to the Dalstrup psychiatric clinic in Djursland. This is where his work as an artist began. After his return to Risskov in 1942, Ovartaci lived in the clinic until his death in 1985. "Ovartaci"-Overtossi in the Jutland dialect-is the alter ego he chose for himself and means "chief patient," a role equivalent to that of a clinical psychiatrist.
Ovartaci's return to Risskov marked the beginning of his painful fight against being a man. In search of pure, spiritual love, Ovartaci saw women as noble beings. Only the amputation of his penis, which he carried out himself, and the subsequent operations to transition to a woman brought him peace. At the time, Ovartaci was 63 years old. But toward the end of his life, Ovartaci returned to his birth name: Ovartaci was once again Louis Marcussen.
Ovartaci not only moved between a female and/or male identity. He dealt with the theme of transformation throughout his life. Pictures, sculptures, painted objects, and even flying machines reflect fantasies about various cycles of reincarnation-whether as a bird, a butterfly, or a llama. Numerous female figures, small to life-size dolls made of paper, cardboard, or papier-mâché, were his companions at the clinic. They accompanied Ovartaci and populated rooms and walls. Ovartaci was the "prima donna" of the clinic. In this protected environment, Ovartaci lived in trans identities and transformed his surroundings into a unique artistic universe.
Instead of the currently invoked post-feminism in art and the art business, today the gender debate must be conducted in a non-binary form. Alongside Ovartaci, the exhibition I YOU HE SHE THEY: Trans Identity presents contemporary artistic positions of female, male, and trans identity. They explore issues of gender and the resulting social expectations and gender stereotypes.
Head of Communications, Museum im Lagerhaus
Further information and high-res images can be found here:
Museum im Lagerhaus Davidstrasse 44 9000 St.Gallen Schweiz