Reframed Positions is the first multi-venue retrospective by artist, producer, writer, educator, audio remixer, and activist Terre Thaemlitz (1968, Minnesota, USA) in Europe. It comprises a survey exhibition, talk, multimedia performance, and a concert curated by Lawrence English, Ann-Kathrin Eickhoff and Elisa R. Linn. Reframed Positions takes place across Halle für Kunst Lüneburg e.V., Volksbühne, Berghain Panorama Bar and Callie’s, Berlin. Its first iteration was curated by Lawrence English, and presented at The Substation in Melbourne, Australia, in 2020.
At Halle für Kunst Lüneburg, painterly, graphic, printed, audiovisual, and written works trace the development of a cross-media critical formal language in Thaemlitz’s practice, from her studies at Cooper Union School of Art in New York during the mid-1980s, to her multi-genre audio work as producer and founder of the label Comatonse Recordings. In her ongoing engagement with cultural theory she analyzes the social functions of power, the social construction of identity, and their relationship to practices of consumerism. For instance, in the liner notes to her 1999 album Love for Sale: Taking Stock in Our Pride, Thaemlitz asks:
“. . . After all, doesn’t an admission to the deliberate use of Queer imagery as a marketing ploy amount to an invalidation of any ‘radical consumption’? Is there such a thing as radical consumption in the first place?”
Thaemlitz employs the ambient genre emphasizing sampled audio elements, echoing the production techniques heard in her house and disco productions under the alias DJ Sprinkles. In her Rubato-series, she is interpreting electronic music classics by Kraftwerk, Gary Numan and Devo as neo-expressionist piano solos, and in Interstices she reads the technical glitch as a social-political phenomenon. In Soulnessless – advertised as the ‘world’s longest album in history & world’s first full-length MP3 album’ – she addresses the MP3 format as the technical prerequisite for music consumption, and the ensuing uncompensated labor demands faced by producers to provide additional materials that surpasses conventional album format lengths.
Her multi-layered practice can be understood as a critical confrontation with essentialist notions of identity politics; encompassing gender, sexuality, class, and ethnicity. Thaemlitz’s work continuously reflects on her own conditions of production and provides an ongoing critique of the socio-economics of commercial media production and its contemporary perception.