SHAVING THE CATERPILLAR: Ileana Pașcalău

13 October - 13 November 2022
Overview
While exploring the times when the female malady was seen as a curiosity, Ileana Pașcalău's artistic process becomes a commemorative practice, remembering several sick women narratives, whose disease transformed their bodies for more than one century into a field of dehumanizing experiments, done by men in the name of science.
Ileana Pașcalău’s artistic research questions how the sexual difference was built, moving her through how the woman's body was regulated, disciplined, and controlled using the medicine, rather than helped, healed, or cured until the beginning of the XXth century. In the flame of the European Enlightenment, assumptions on the dual nature of everything, including the body and the mind, the medicine attempt to „relieve“ the pain of mental suffering produced the exact opposite effect, enhancing trauma and sexual inhibition.
Press release
In partnership with Goethe Institute, Mobius is pleased to announce the opening of SHAVING THE CATERPILLAR, the first solo show of the Romanian-born, Berlin-based artist, Ileana Pașcalău, curated by Valentina Iancu. 
 
Exhibition opening: 13 October, 6 pm - 10 pm 
#18 Dumbrava Roșie street, Bucharest 
Exhibition dates: 13 October - 13 November, 2022

 

The title of the exhibition, SHAVING THE CATERPILLAR, pays homage to Anne Sexton (1928-1974), one of the first female poets who dared to write about women’s sexuality, while creating highly confessional, intimate, and emotional poetry that also functioned as an instrument for disclosing her struggles with mental illness. 

 

Marking the artist’s first presentation in Romania, the exhibition reveals a territory where healing becomes possible only by shading light on the places and times swallowed up in oblivion and darkness.  

 

Shaving the Caterpillar unfolds a “hysterical surrealist” universe filled with hyperreal objects, installations, and drawings, a witty and wise aestheticization of multiple violent experiments done on a woman's body in the name of science. 

Ileana Pașcalău’s artistic research questions how the sexual difference was built, moving her through how the woman's body was regulated, disciplined, and controlled using the medicine, rather than helped, healed, or cured until the beginning of the XXth century. In the flame of the European Enlightenment, assumptions on the dual nature of everything, including the body and the mind, the medicine attempt to „relieve“ the pain of mental suffering produced the exact opposite effect, enhancing trauma and sexual inhibition. 

Ileana Pașcalău's work explores pieces from the history of the female “deviant”, reworking the objects of male study into transgressive pieces of female desire. The exhibition Shaving the Caterpillar stages a theatricalized museification of the so-called woman mystery, stealing and queering some very serious male researchers' work.

 

While exploring the times when the female malady was seen as a curiosity, Ileana Pașcalău's artistic process becomes a commemorative practice, remembering several sick women narratives, whose disease transformed their bodies for more than one century into a field of dehumanizing experiments, done by men in the name of science. Learning, remembering, unlearning, and transforming are tools for a radical encounter with the history of medicine. 

In Ileana’s words, her work “shall act as forensic instruments meant to reveal new facts in the gynecide[1] that culminated at the dawn of the previous century with the imprisonment of numerous women in mental asylums”. 



[1] gynecide (uncountable). The killing of females, especially female infants