Barbara Bickel

Artist Statement

"Reviled in patriarchal ideologies and theologies for millennia, feminist physiology
and corporeal cognition is redeemed in Bickel’s images.”
Yvonne Owens, 2006, art historian & art writer

I understand and experience art making to be a co-relational and performative ritual act that takes me to a threshold of opportunity to witness rather than a transcendent place of escape. Post Lacanian artist/theorist Bracha Ettinger articulates this co-relational experience as “[t]he artist in the matrixial dimension [a]s wit(h)ness in com-passionate hospitality.” Within my art practice I physically, emotionally and spiritually enter a matrixial aesthetic inquiry. As I make art I enter a co-relational dialogue with an-other mediated by the physical mark-making process and its encounter with the ground of the art piece. Within these dialogic co-encounters memory and becoming intermingle.

Throughout my art career I have enacted the traditional practice of figurative drawing. Not satisfied with the traditional artist/model relationship, a co-creative process of working with an-other developed. In re-performing the traditional practice of figure drawing I return to, and at the same time appeal to, a source of trauma: the objectification of women in the phallic sphere. In doing so, I expose myself, my collaborators, and the viewers to the vulnerability and fragility of intimacy. In entering the matrixial borderspace of art we have the opportunity to join-with/in difference and to transform the trauma of objectification into the potentiality of knowing from/of the other.

Within the gestating wombspace of matrixial bordertime the other is encountered and revealed. My art practice is a wit(h)nessing, an ethics-in-process. It serves release of the female body/voice from the paranoic gaze of hegemonic phallic cultural norms that have dis/placed all that is feminine into the location of the other. The matrixial gaze resists such hegemony and provides the artist/co-creators/viewers the opportunity to be transported beside, before, below and beyond the phallic gaze.

Sharing dialogue with an-other through drawing has led me to performative co-inquiry with collaborators. The enactment of performance rituals-- as collective social events that draw upon and honor all aspects of the artworking process have been the result. The documentation of these shared performance rituals turned me in the direction of video art and video projection. Re-performing the body in the real time of ritual and digital experimentation has become a further co-encounter of co-wit(h)nessing within traces of the matrixial sphere. The past, present and future of my art is devoted to understanding art as an embodiment of sharable co-encounter events within matrixial borderspace(s) and its possibilities for individual, cultural and environmental re-attunement, critical reflection, and transformation.


Ettinger, Bracha L. (2005). Copoiesis. Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization, 5(X), 703-713.

Art Images
Women 'Enduring Freedom' series, mixed media collage on board