Josephine Baker: Freiheit, Gleichheit, Menschlichkeit (Bundeskunsthalle Bonn)
Annette Dorgerloh, Mona Horncastle, Eva Kraus, Yao Modzinou, Brygida Ochaim, Tracy Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Barbara Tannenbaum
Bundeskunsthalle Bonn & Distanz, 2023
Josephine Baker (b. St. Louis, Missouri, 1906; d. Paris, 1975) broke free from segregation and racist violence by going into exile in Paris in 1925. The dancer, singer, and actress’s swift rise to celebrity was unrivaled; from the French capital, she soon conquered the stages of the world. Yet Baker was more than “merely” a dancer, icon, and superstar. She was also an indefatigable advocate of equality between people regardless of skin color, sex, and class.
The exhibition Freedom—Equality—Humanity at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn sheds light on what made Josephine Baker’s success possible and how she turned the ostensible stigma of her skin color into a strength, using her fame to liberate others. For her lifetime achievements, she was inducted into the Pantheon, the resting place of French national heroes, in 2021, the sixth woman and first nonwhite woman to receive this honor.
The extensive catalogue accompanying the exhibition, with essays by Annette Dorgerloh, Mona Horncastle, Eva Kraus, Yao Modzinou, Brygida Ochaim, Tracy Denean Sharpley-Whiting, and Barbara Tannenbaum, examines Baker’s work, her influence as a champion of freedom, and her significance for the LBGTQI+ community. It also embeds her art in the history of dance and portrays the Paris of the 1920s and 1930s as a magical, cosmopolitan, progressive place of empowerment for (African-American) women and Europe’s creative epicenter. IN DUITS!