Roland Nachtigäller

EVA & ADELE come from the future. Since 1991 they have always appeared together, always with a smile on their faces, always dressed alike in the international art world as they transform their surroundings: “Wherever we are is museum.” What at first glance seems to be an entertaining dressing-up performance is in fact an expression of lifelong commitment and devotion to an artistic existence which is as radical as it is differentiated – EVA & ADELE have no life outside EVA & ADELE.

EVA & ADELE have a past. Just as the creation of a new twin identity proclaims the utopia of a life beyond gender boundaries, the unifying dissolution of two individual biographies marked the transition from everyday to a vision. But unlike utopias with their ethereal, remote aesthetics feeding on inaccessibility, the vision arises in the here and now from a shadowy realm of inadequacy. It remains steeped in life, claims to be rooted in reality, and obtains its energy from the past.

EVA & ADELE are present in every moment. In this blend of art and life, they conjure up with their public appearance the reality of another existence. They reinvent themselves daily, seek different forms of identity: man and woman simultaneously, intensified by their clothes and colours, iridescent between promises of happiness and uncertainty. With both partners having irrevocably decided at a certain point in life to abandon their restless individual search for a valid artistic identity in favour of a binding shared existence, they live out the vision of a new role definition and hence a coming-to-rest in the mirror of each other.

“Wherever we are is museum.” The museum is the place where future, present and past come together. This is where EVA & ADELE’s utopian life project shines as a work of art, this is the scene of encounter with their actual physical existence, and this is where each individual history with all its faults and detours keeps pushing its way into the present. Whereas their comprehensive media and painterly oeuvre appears as the consistent extension of their life performance into a material art production – and hence also emanating from the future – the almost diary-like drawings also always executed jointly are closer to questions of a past clamouring to be heard.

Even so, ‘TSG I’ came as a shock: drawings of a double creature almost impossible to pin down with convoluted eyes, double mouths, with horns and deformations, physiognomies of dolls’ faces starkly captured in pencil which not only lack all human grace but also reject all sophistication, greyscale and mastery.

They are pure energy, bipolar currents, searching movements, notes of a corrosive self-image between decal and the search for identity, disturbing, unsettling, depressing – and above all not at all what EVA & ADELE stood for. At the same time, how- ever, the title pointed the way: ‘Transsexuellengesetz’ (Gender Recognition Act), which in Germany goes much further than in many other European countries and provided a way for EVA & ADELE to establish a legally recognized female twin entity without hormonal treatment or surgery. The price that had to be paid was a double psychological evaluation and a merciless childhood analysis laying bare the most personal roots. These shadows and ghosts, drop heights and precipices circle and sur- round the drawings from 2009; they painstakingly bring them to light and ultimately make them shine. Places providing a sense of security such as the Ile de Ré and at home in Berlin also trace this journey. From the ‘Kaktusblüte’ (Cactus blossom) and ‘Nebelglanz’ (Silver Haze) to ‘Spiegelgespiegelt’ (Mirrormirrored), these chimeras work their way to the light, while the harsh pencil lines are joined by shiny fragments of red patent leather (found objects from costume production) and shimmering tinfoil paper. Finally, in their latest series entitled ‘Obsidian’ (after which the entire exhibition is named), the pencil realms appear to have become established, symmetries and reflections produce initial balance, the elements are arranged more around a centre again, wings, foundations and clusters create a calm which, between lightness and earthing, suddenly gives the abyss a reinforcing depth.

Given this, the nine patent leather costumes also appear in a new light between corsetry and liberation, between stylish extravagance and seductive S&M aesthetics – a second skin that offered support and protection, and at a certain point was intended to be peeled off. This first extensive presentation of EVA & ADELE’s drawings between 2009 and 2012 takes us on an unexpected yet fascinating journey into an intermediate world, which adds grey-drenched shade to the dazzling pink of their appearances, between passion and cold, between a life burning for art and the dark corners of a never-ending search for identity. ‘Obsidian’ is a turning point, a magical moment for every visitor, an unanswerable question about the conditions of our existence.

I am indebted to EVA & ADELE for embarking upon this precarious venture with me and the Marta Herford museum. Starting from the spontaneous fascination for a number of drawings discovered in their studio, we set off together a year ago to develop a complex, profound exhibition which, while not necessarily creating a completely new picture of this artistic couple, certainly adds a not insignificant facet to their exis- tence. Our gratitude and our respect go out to them for the considerable openness, dedication and rousing enthusiasm with which both artists have driven this project. I would also like to express my heartfelt thanks to the many sponsors and supporters, all of whom found the EVA & ADELE project so fascinating and so convincing, for making this unswerving project possible. There is no doubt in my mind that it will leave visitors smiling yet moved and thoughtful all at once.