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12 - 16 October 2022

Introducing Orshi Drozdik

by Sarah Wilson

Booth S15

Exhibited artist: Orshi Drozdik

Orshi Drozdik is an extraordinary woman, painter, photographer, sculptor and performance artist. What does life on the Budapest-New York axis imply? The ‘East Side Story’ is in so many ways the mirror image of its Western counterpart; this applies to the neo- avant-garde and performance as much as to Pop, post-Pop figurations and conceptual art. Yet different paths and sensibilities are at stake. And with language — Hungarian is a unique living heritage, soft and musical — a change of persona is implied in melting-pot NewYork, with its direct and snappy monosyllables, its straight-to- the-point constructions. The fundamental difference between these capitals and outlooks is what makes Orshi special; she bestrides two worlds.

As she declares, „As a student, in 1975, I started to create artwork with critical feminist approach, connecting my work with the pre-war Hungarian feminist movement in dance and in art, also with the exceptionally original Hungarian Bergsonian philosopher, mathematician, and free-dance-choreographer Valeria Dienes.” Orshi belongs to the lineage of great, often still unknown, women artists in Hungary from the painters Lili Ország or Judit Reigl to Ilona Keserü in the Pop period and the better known Dóra Mauer (photography and conceptual art). Yet she is a close contemporary of the American artist Eleanor Antin, and chose for her fictional alter- ego the eminent natural scientist, born in an American brothel, with the name of Edith Simpson. First challenging female stereotypes, following artists such as Carolee Schneemann or ORLAN in France, Orshi Drozdik has spent much time contemplating the macabre: human remains — embryos in jars — or their facsimiles such as open wax female anatomies. Encroaching upon the almost entirely masculine domain of eighteenth- and nineteenth- century medical research, Orshi/ Edith Simpson insists upon her own path as she scrambles the high purpose and methodologies of the lofty exponents of yore. Entirely cognisant with the study of power structures, bodies and desires under capitalism in the works of Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze, or voices which tear through time such as Antonin Artaud, her questioning of the authority of the very paradigms of our inherited knowledge, the meaning of ‘science’, is central to her individual contribution to the story of art in the feminine.

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