Katharina Sievering (b.1944, Prague, Czech Republic) is a critically acclaimed photographer and filmmaker. Over the course of her career, she has produced an oeuvre of strongly conceptual visual art which investigates the relationship between society and the individual.
In the 1960s, Katharina studied sculpture with Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, going on to study in the United States, China and the USSR. It was perhaps her sculptural background which led to her signature approach – large scale portraits, often up to six metres high. However, her interest in portraiture stems from a comparatively smaller source – the abundant passport photos to which she had access while working in nightclubs during the genesis of her artistic practice.
Katharina’s portraits pertain to ‘an expression of self-perception that does not exclude the other’. She has created work which intermingles images of herself and others – including her partner, the artist Klaus Mettig, wearing make-up and long hair in Katharina’s style.
Layering apparent distinctions, Katharina emblematises ambiguity and questions social parameters. As Kristian Vistrup Madsen describes; ‘in her images – not exactly photographs – power is materialised in ways that are not purely representational, but have to do with light, layering, time and repetition.’ For Katharina, self portraiture represents ‘a means of conveying an artistic vision of the world’:
“I trained a lot to work with fake news, and how you’re able to alter images. In a way, I also make fake news. I’m completely free. My work has been a process of emancipation from the boundaries imposed by histories and media.” – Katharina Sievering
Katharina has featured in numerous exhibitions as well as in solo shows at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the ICA in Boston, and the Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, among others. Today, her work resides within the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Kunstmuseum Bonn, the Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern.