Amrita Stützle is an Austrian born artist who works in photography and video. She received a BFA in Art Photography from the school of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. She was a participant of the 2018 NY Times Portfolio Review and is a 2018 Saltonstall Artist-in-Residence fellow. Her work dissects diaristic aspects of her identity alongside grander notions of femininity, labor, and power. She is currently the Lab Manager at Light Work, a non-profit photography organization supporting artists since 1973. She began the MFA program at the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania in fall 2019.
I use lens-based media to address larger issues that thread together labor, femininity, and power. My current work in progress, “Malleus Maleficarum” (2018), traces my mother’s Pagan spirituality through performative photographs and images made parallel to my research into rare archival materials relating to witchcraft. By photographing my mother, a self-proclaimed Wiccan, her close friends, and myself, alongside symbols and signifiers of Witchcraft, I aim at creating an idiosyncratic framework that expands the fraught notions of feminine spirituality. The infamous literary work of Malleus Maleficarum, (Latin for “The Hammer of Witches”) written during the Holy Roman Empire, largely upheld patriarchal values, furthermore disguising bigotry as virtue. The mark of the devil, or witch’s mark, one of many ploys to condemn innocent women, was forged. This mark from the late 1500’s had been reworked, reimagined, and reconstituted throughout history. Many illustrations in psychoanalytical texts of the 1800’s portray demonic attacks using female models. By pointing to scenes from these texts on Witchcraft and hysteria, I aim to research the ways unbound femininity have historically been portrayed. I predominantly photograph these images with a large format 4×5 camera to create slow, careful compositions with fine control over depth of field and perspective. I create a timeline unifying the historical backdrop with a contemporary exploration of my relationship with my mother. Herbalism, midwifery, and other pagan beliefs are all used to create performatives scenes that explore feminine spirituality and its demonization.
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