Adrienne van Eeden
English translation from Die Burger 18 Ocotber 2007
Bridget Baker’s new exhibition, Bridget Bæker; an expedition of works found in Swtizerland 2006-2007, marks a return to the artist’s main character, The Blue Collar Girl, as well as a introduction to two of her progenitors, The Transparent Girl and The Pilot.
In Baker’s writing on her work she draws a parallel between the characters of her recent work (as well as her earlier characters The Sunday Morning Wonder Woman and The Maiden) and 1920’s heroic, animated-comic super heroines.
The Transparent Girl is also based on the French Swiss writer Corinna Bille’s character in Le Jeune Fille Tranparente. A book of Bille’s short stories was recently translated by Monika Giacoppe and Christiane Makward entitled The Transparent Girl and Other Stories.
Bridget Bæker consists of two large photographic works and a short film. In La Fille Transparente à Kippel/Das Transparente Mädchen in Kippel (photographer: Daniel Stucki), the Transparent Girl is photographed in her wooden chalet obsessively carving the words “Only You Can ©” into a wooden leg. This motivating phrase has, over the past few years, has become the slogan of Baker’s female characters and furthermore it forms part of her general play with official language use and slogans. “Only You Can ©” appears again on the bottom of The Pilot’s crampon’s and deeply etched into the ice in The Blue Collar Girl (Valais, Switzerland).
Although Baker usually utilises specific models or actresses for her characters, it seems that she acts the role of The Transparent Girl for this photograph. In previous work, the artist depicts the almost invisible yet heroic nature of the daily tasks of many of her female characters. However, it is in La Fille Transparente à Kippel, that she becomes self-conscious and self-reflective, invisible and yet unmistakeable.
The tragic yet comical nature of Baker’s intricately planned photographic stills draws the viewer’s attention to the fragility and shortcomings of her characters, as well as the possibility of a master narrative.
Upon closer examination, the viewer realises that the leg of The Transparent Girl is broken. On the back wall of the chalet is a photograph of an icon (obviously a filmstar): the same photograph is projected onto a screen in the almost empty movie theatre in The Blue Collar Girl (Valais, Switzerland) and could possibly be the Blue Collar Girl.
In Baker’s earlier series of the Blue Collar Girl, a similar photograph was placed in the works and was signed ‘Break a leg’; this time the film icon wears an emblem depicting two wooden legs and a crutch. The heroine in Baker’s film, The Pilot, wears the same insignia.
According to Bridget Baker, The Pilot is constructed to seem like found footage from 1920’s and is based on the physically demanding film shoots which took place in the Alps by directors such as Arnold Fanck.
The main character of The Pilot seems to be unconscious and could be dead or dying. As the camera moves over her body, the viewer realises that her leg is also broken but the exact reason why she is trapped in the snow is unknown.
The “found footage” abruptly changes direction as the heroine’s body is dragged out of the snow and up an Art Deco building facade, upon which is a poster for one of her performances. The interplay between obvious construction and the work of archival object is highly successful.
Bridget Bæker is a well-thought out and entertaining exhibition, which draws the viewer into an exotic and yet familiar world of heroines and female characters.