d. 21st Century
With irony, humor and an outrageous sense of style, Ursula Hodel's performance gestures conflate desire, consumerism, vanity, and the female body, and put a new spin on the idea of video as mirror. Using herself as the main subject of her video work, Hodel explores notions of beauty, hedonism, narcissism and self-obsession. Hodel began producing video in 1995, after pursuing eclectic fields and media, including ceramics, psychology and fencing. Her body of video work is divided into two main series. The Past Lives series includes works based on texts written by the artist during states of trance. Here she combines narrative with poetic images, locating her stories in a grey area suspended between the real and the fictional. In the Performance Tapes series, Hodel enacts intimate acts of indulgence and self-gratification, such as eating, masturbating, or changing clothes. While the first series of works presents the artist as silent and reflective, with only a voice-over unfolding the narrative, the Performance Tapes are more dynamic, with the artist engaged in ritualized and compulsive activities. In many of her videos, Hodel appears wearing glamorous couture outfits and make-up, offering an intriguing contrast between an image of alluring diva and the ageing female body.