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Autumn at Grazer Kunstverein

Emma Wolf-Haugh
Domestic Optimism
Act One: Modernism – A Lesbian Love Story

24 September – 20 November 2020

Soft opening: 24 September, 3–7pm


Emma Wolf-Haugh, still from Domestic Optimism, Act One, Modernism – A Lesbian Love Story, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist.

Domestic Optimism is an exhibition about mangled and mistold modernist legacies. The project begins with furniture, inanimate objects that come loaded with social connections and invisible histories. Through the displacement of cultural detritus Emma Wolf-Haugh retells modernist architectural history in the collective key of queer-feminist and decolonial practices, continually unearthing filth in times of hygiene, and complicating things that were never simple to begin with.

Wolf-Haugh is a visual artist and educator. Weaving together installation, performance, publishing and collaborative workshop techniques, she is interested in reorienting attention towards cultural narratives by developing work from a questioning of ‘what is missing’. Her work is informed by how spaces, identities and social relations are generated temporarily in theatre, drag performance and queer DIY club scenes, via aesthetic and somatic practices.

For this exhibition colonial aesthetics, obscenity trials, hysterical masculinity, crime scene photography, sexology, the production of the lesbian throughout modernity and the current collapse of social housing projects, all intersect in a critical, queer, working class reading of architectural and design modernism. The project underscores the importance of solidarity, friendship and collectivity, for our communion and survival in the world today.

Emma Wolf-Haugh (born 1974) is a visual artist and educator. She is co-founder of the artist collective The Many Headed Hydra together with Suza Husse. Emma has been in artist in residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art since July 2019. Current & recent projects include: Seized by the Left Hand, curated by Eoin Dara and Kim McAleese at Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dec 2019, Is it Possible to Exist Outside of Language, curated by Aziz Sohail, at Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture, Karachi, Pakistan, I SLIPPED INTO MY FIRST METAMORPHOSIS SO QUIETLY THAT NO ONE NOTICED, curated by Gitte Villesen, Den Frie Center Of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen (2019), Colomboscope interdisciplinary arts festival, curated by Natasha Ginwala, with The Many Headed Hydra, Sri Lanka (2019).


Domestic Optimism is co-produced with Project Arts Centre, Dublin, and kindly supported by Culture Ireland.