Sophie Schmidt, born in Munich in 1986, studied philosophy and German literature at the LMU in Munich, Germany, where she also completed a degree in fine arts and art pedagogy at the Academy for Fine Arts. In 2016/2017, she finished her fine art studies under Prof. Stephan Huber and Stephan Dillemuth as master student (“Meisterschülerin”) and received the Debutant Prize from the Bavarian State Ministry for Research, Science and Art. For the completion of her studies in art pedagogy, she was awarded with a prize for her exam from the foundation of the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. From 2017 until 2018 she was a fellow of the Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, NL. In 2020, she was a fellow of the Stiftung Kunstfonds and, in 2021, she received a fellowship from the Deutsches Studienzentrum in Venedig (German Study Center in Venice, IT).
Since the completion of her studies, Sophie Schmidt has been invited to numerous national and international group exhibitions. Recently, she realized the following solo exhibitions that were always accompanied by performances: Tobias Naehring Berlin, 2020 Galerie Tobias Naehring, Leipzig; KNUSTxKUNZ+, sowie fructa space, both in Munich; 2019 Josilda da Conceicao Gallery, Amsterdam, NL; 2017 Tanja Pol Galerie, Munich. Her exhibitions have been complemented by multiple publications.
Since 2020, next to Angela Stiegler, Nikolai Gümbel und Samuel Fischer-Glaser, Sophie Schmidt is part of the opera collective DIVA
Prostheses Are my Artistic Expansion: An Antenna for Concrete Feeling
In my artistic work, I consider the body, a body that opens and connects. In this context, the prosthesis plays a central role. I build prostheses, expansions of the body and transformational machines and I connect them with painting, drawing and text. In all of these media, hybrid prosthetic bodies are created, cyborgs are created, that is I would like to use the concept of the feminist cyborg, (Cyborg Manifesto, 1985) as outlined by Donna Haraway.
Transgressing the limits of the body by prosthetically expanding it denotes an entanglement, a connection and empathy for me in the sense of body expansion [Körperweitung]. I consciously speak of body expansions instead of body extensions to break with the expectance of performance by usual prostheses. Accordingly, my prostheses are not technological products, but utopian constructs. As an imaginative power, they subvert the hegemony of the head concerning the stomach and, henceforth, they demand liberation from the corset and concept of being human. It is necessary to recombine the body to become entangled with the world once again and to overcome the separation between thinking and feeling and other dualisms. Thus, the recombination of the body does not result in an extension, but in an expansion.
By recombining the body and with my prostheses, I aspire to a new being-in-the-world and a new bodily posture. After all, the bodily posture and the commitment to it is also an attitude towards the world. In our case, this means: head on top, stomach beneath. The vampyroteuthis infernalis, the vampire squid, of which Vilém Flusser writes (Vampyrotheutis Infernalis, Vilém Flusser, Luis Beck), shows a contrary posture: stomach on top, head beneath. This changes a lot.
The occidental perspective constructs the body as a thing separated from the soul, that can be used as desired. This is also inscribed in the prostheses and continues to be written with them. The prosthesis and its technique produce a body which separates it from its environment and co-world. This leads to the common dualisms like body/soul, subject/object, culture/nature, human/animal, man/woman and the hierarchies connected to them. As a rational progress creature, we devalue less rational bodies. We think of an antenna, which grasps its environment through feeling and through vicinity, to be less progressive than an eye recognizing from the distance.
Since the prosthesis is supposed to make up for a lack, the question arises what kind of a lack that is. Do we need the prosthesis specifically for optimizing? Doesn’t the lack consist in a lack of social togetherness?
My prostheses counter the model of optimization. My mosquito gymnastics aren’t a work-out for strength, they lead to becoming small, delicate, fragile, and vulnerable. My prostheses stumble, slow down and complicate. They are friendly, but also resistant. They destroy, laugh, scream, cry, and fail. They are delicate, small, helpless, and then again, big and enormous.
And, they prefer an antenna for an eye.