The Baroness at Mimosa House London

Art Spiel Photo Story

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (c. 1921-22), George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, LC 5677-2. From digital scan of photograph.
Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (c. 1921-22), George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, LC 5677-2. From digital scan of photograph.

The Baroness at Mimosa House in London is a group exhibition dedicated to Dada artist, the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874–1927). The exhibition manifests the ongoing influence of the Baroness on contemporary artists and poets, showcasing artworks and performative contributions created in homage to Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven or influenced by her radical work and effervescent personality. The show questions the legacy of Dada poetry and performance today, in a feminist and queer dimension in particular. How can artists navigate the art world, politics and society while creating a work which resists and disrupts the conventional canon? Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven becomes a role model and inspiration for international artists of different generations and media of work.

The exhibition centers poetry and voice: artists and poets who participate in the show chose their favourite poems by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven and made a voice recording of it which is featured in the exhibition; Baroness’ manuscripts of poems are featured on the walls throughout the space responding to architectural elements of the gallery. Curator Daria Khan further elaborates—we are delighted to be able to show 3 original ready-made sculptures by Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. The first one, Enduring Ornament, 1913, is a rusted metal ring that she collected on the streets of New York on the way to get married with Baron von Freytag-Loringhovenat at the City Hall. Earring-Object, 1918 is an example of a found objects assemblages that Baroness wore as part of her eccentric attires.

From left to right: Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Enduring Ornament (c. 1913). Collection of Mark Kelman, New York, Sadie Murdoch, In Zinc (2022). Courtesy the artist. Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Earring-Object (c. 1918). Collection of Mark Kelman, New York. Photo by Rob Harris

Cathedral, 1918 is a piece of found wood reminiscent of New York’s skyscrapers and Gothic cathedral at once, as an attempt to negotiate the artist’s belonging to both the USA and Old Europe. In response to Baroness’ Cathedral, Linda Stupart presents their new site-specific installation Cathedral, 2022 – an anthropomorphic 3-meter-high creature constituted of rescued pieces of wood.

Linda Stupart, Cathedral (2022). Courtesy the artist. Photo by Rob Harris.

One more Cathedral, 2022 is a digital photo collage by Sadie Murdoch which inserts into one of Berenice Abbot’s photographic landscapes, a distorted silhouette of the artist in a hat and long dress. In the image, the artist merges uncannily with a fragment of Marcel Duchamp’s and Man Ray’s collaboration Dust Breeding.

From left to right: Zuzanna Janin, Femmage a Maria & Elsa (for Phyllida Barlow), 2019.Courtesy the artist. Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Cathedral (c. 1918). Collection of Mark Kelman, New York, Sadie Murdoch, Cathedral (2022). Courtesy the artist. Photo by Rob Harris.

Echoing Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s fashions created from everyday objects, Taqralik Patridge’s amautiit (women’s parkas) are based on one her mother made and wore when the artist was a child. Fashioned from unconventional materials, Partridge’s amautiit underscore the vital role of material culture in identity, resilience and “homefullness,” while signaling the precarity and homelessness many Inuit face. Partridge uses utilitarian materials and objects—newspaper, tarp, dental floss, hula hoops, packing tape and spoons— as a nod to Baroness’ eccentric appearances, as recalled by gone of her contemporaries: “On her head was a black velvet tam o’shanter with a feather and several spoons – long ice-cream-soda spoons. She had enormous earrings of tarnished silver and on her hands were many rings, on the little finger high peasant buttons filled with shot. Her hair was the color of a bay horse”.

Taqralik Partridge, Build My Own Home (2021). Courtesy the artist. Photo by Rob Harris.

Developing on Dada methodologies, and on the concept of exquisite corpse, Reba Maybury’s A-good-individual, 2019 is a video sculpture showing the backs of five different body parts of five different submissive men reading poems. Each poem the submissives read had been made for Maybury on her demand— using the cut-up technique—from abuse she received during a right wing media storm about her work as a ‘political dominatrix’. She asked the submissives to look at these examples of modern misogyny and from it, make love poetry about her, so she can test their fetish for ‘female power’.

From left to right:Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven Working as Model (7 December 1915). © International News Photography Bettman / Corbis / Magma Getty Images Reba Maybury, A-good-individual (2019). Courtesy the artist and Luma Westbau. Photo by Rob Harris.
Astrid Seme, Baroness Elsa’s em dashes (2019).
Courtesy the artist. Photo by Rob Harris.

The Baroness at Mimnosa House runs from 27 May to 17 September 2022 47 Theobalds Rd, London WC1X 8SP Curated by Daria Khan Featured artists: Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Nora Gomringer, Libby Heaney, Caspar Heinemann, Istanbul Queer Art Collective, Zuzanna Janin, Reba Maybury, Sadie Murdoch, Nat Raha, Taqralik Partridge, Liv Schulman, Astrid Seme, and Linda Stupart.

Daria Khan is the founder and curator of Mimosa House, one of the most critically acclaimed independent non-profit institutions in the heart of London. She graduated from the Curating Contemporary Art MA at the Royal College of Art, London in 2013, and is currently undertaking the MPhil/PhD Art Program at Goldsmiths University, London. Daria’s current research develops around curatorial strategies for exhibiting, translating and archiving performative poetry in the context of contemporary visual arts.

Mimosa House is an art institution dedicated to artistic experimentation and collaboration, supporting dialogue between intergenerational women and queer artists, embracing inclusivity and sensitivity, Mimosa House is a safe and empowering space which focuses on the fluidity of identity and recognises the need for change.