Opening and artist talk:

April 24, 7 pm

April 25 to May 23
Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz

normal work


2007 | 16mm/DVD | 13min
13 photographs, 1855–1902

The film “normal work” restages four historical photographs of the Victorian house maid Hannah Cullwick in which she takes on poses, crossing various social positions of class, “race,” and gender. The Victorian house maid Hannah Cullwick not only cleaned from early in the morning to late in the evening in various households, where she earned her tiny wages, lodging, and “beer money” in the mid nineteenth century, she also produced a series of remarkable staged photographs, numerous diaries, and letters, which was not at all common for a house maid of the time. These materials present her strength, her muscles, and her big, dirty, red hands – embodiments of her “masculinity” which she was very proud of and that were obviously directly connected with her working practices, which are usually coded “female.” Hannah Cullwick’s portraits and self-portraits, which show her not only as a domestic servant, but also in “class drag” or “ethnic drag,” were part of a sadomasochistic relationship that she had with Arthur Munby, a man from the bourgeois class. Interestingly, it was the elements of her hard work in the households that provided the material for their shared SM scenes. … >>