Masha Matzke

b . Berlin. Lives and works in Berlin.


Within my artistic practice I explore archival and archeological dispositives through the theoretical lenses of (media) philosophy, psychoanalysis, and aesthetics. My principal themes are alterity, the ambiguities of identity and subjecthood as they relate to a Western history of vision and modernity. I probe and express these themes through a wide range of media: drawing, painting, collage, analog photography, photomontage, and film. I am a collector and a bricoleur, making do with found materials and drawing inspiration from diverse, seemingly incompatible pictorial genres, such as anatomical drawings and christian iconography. These motifs are not meant to be symbolical but allegorical references to obscure culture-historical phenomena (like a “scientific liturgy”). By referring to or directly appropriating historical imagery and by reading these expressions as cultural symptoms failed to be repressed, I attempt to approach my source motifs’ violent and illusionistic gestures of overpowering and disfiguring an imaginary other. Moreover, I intentionally reproduce paradigmatic (re)presentations of otherness – like the sadistic but aesthetically pleasing confluence of death and femininity, or the pathological and exclusionary tendencies of Western medical imagery – as they are tremendously symptomatic of the malignant function of visual representation within the Western cultural order.

My recent practice is devoted to the historical staging of madness in early psychiatric photographies through a confrontational dialog between a photographic taxidermy and the deliberating abstraction of my drawings which I consider to be cinematic or in relation to filmic movement. In a metaphor of the distorted mirror, the funereal immobility of the photographs comes into conflict with the multiperspective and disruptive formations of the drawings allegorizing both the fading of subjects – barred and torn by the other of language and reason – and the repressed rupture underneath the illusionary integrity of photographic realism. By attempting to exceed the othering, the instant of subjection, in both (re)animating and fixating, within a dialectic of presence and absence, the drawing’s vulnerable but opposing faces become irreparable and resistant historical remembrance as faces of ruins – ruins as a mode of seeing the haunted myth of modernity.


  • BA philosophy/theater studies, Freie Universität Berlin
  • BA film studies/art history, Freie Universität Berlin/Charles University Prague
  • MA film studies, Freie Universität Berlin [Thesis on “Proto-Cinema, the Archive and the Avant-Garde”]
  • Current: PhD research project, working title: Epistemologies of Modernity, (An)archival Desire and the Avant-Garde. Proto-Cinematic Appropriations and Archival Art Film Practice between the Dispositives (with a focus on Paolo Gioli, Ken Jacobs, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi)
  • Theater and film related work with/for: Theater Ballhaus Ost, drifting underground, new berlin film award, Federal Film Archive Berlin, Forum Expanded (Berlinale), Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art (Experimental Film Distribution). Current: Filmarchivist at Deutsche Kinemathek Berlin and curator of experimental film (FRACTO Experimental Film Festival at ACUD macht neu, light movement at spektrum Berlin)
  • Solo Exhibition “Figures. Asymmetry towards the other” for Kolonie Wedding 2013 and 2016
  • Solo Exhibition “The Cannibalized Woman” at Tatau Obscur 2014
  • Solo Exhibition “Aphanisis” at Nomad Gallery 2016
  • Group Exhibition “Anatomia Hypnagogica” with Pablo Arce at AKA 2015
  • Group Exhibition “Body Reflection Body Modification” at Kulturfestival Wedding/Moabit 2014
Screening/Exhibition Month of Performance Art “migration/border regime” at OKK 2014 Live Collage Performance at Alianza Francesa La Paz Bolivia 2015
  • Screening “Die Drohung der Verrücktheit geht von der Frau aus” (16mm) at International Summer Academy Salzburg 2016

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