Behind Closed Doors: Body of Evidence

Behind Closed Doors: Body of Evidence

Natascha Niederstrass

July 18-August 15, 2015

Vernissage: Saturday July 18, 3pm 


Behind Closed Doors: Body of Evidence examines the question of artist as criminal. This reflection in the figurative sense leads Niederstrass to wonder about the artist’s research process and his way to oscillate between the acceptable rules and limits of art without transgressing them.

The main objective of this research is to bring the viewer to reconstruct a story, a scene, a speculative action in relation to the installation. Behind Closed Doors: Body of Evidence is based on the work of Marcel Duchamp titled Given: 1° The Waterfall, 2° The Illuminating Gas (1946-1966) and his instruction manual for its construction.

Rather than recreating Duchamops installation Natascha uses the manual, as a guide, to simulate the artist’s work space. This allows her to introduce new components creating clues that allow us to imagine the potential involvement of Duchamp in the murder of Elizabeth Short, also known as the "Black Dahlia".

According to author Jean-Michel Rabaté, the representation of women in Duchamp’s piece would refer among other things to this crime scene. This tragic event terrified the American public. The body of this young woman discovered severed in two at the waist in a vacant lot in Los Angeles on January 15, 1947. Furthermore, in Steve Hodel’s essay, Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder (2003), he proposes the thesis that his own father, surgeon George Hodel, murdered Elizabeth Short. Art loving intellectual and amateur photographer, George Hodel was closely linked to Man Ray who was a great friend of Marcel Duchamp. Steve Hodel suggests that since Man Ray and Duchamp were closely associated, Ray could have made Duchamp aware of the murder before it happened.

Niederstrass’s artistic practice is mostly inspired by the sensationalism of news media, crime scene photography, and horror cinema.  She believes that forensic methodology is a surprisingly effective tool as it offers a viable critical model for understanding contemporary art which often relies on clues, obscurities and residue.

Her research touches on themes related to the Freudian concept of the "uncanny" (unheimlich). Behind Closed Doors: Body of Evidence uses devices that create dichotomies between what is real or fictional, familiar or foreign, known or unknown. By attracting and repelling the viewer at the same time, Niederstrass instills a sense of discomfort that unsettles what seemed clear at first glance. By tracing or reflecting a history of prior actions and motivations, the viewer is placed in the role of the investigator in order to engage in a process of mental reconstruction, enabling an interaction with the created environment. 

Gallery 101 gratefully acknowledges the support of the City of Ottawa, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Gallery 101 thanks the Asinabka: Film & Media Arts Festival, our members, volunteers, partners, and all our relations. 

Jul 18 2015 - Aug 15 2015


Saturday, July 18, 2015 - 3:00pm - Saturday, August 15, 2015 - 5:00pm


Natascha Niederstrass holds an MFA from York University in Toronto (2001) and a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal (1997). Using video, photography and installation, Niederstrass's work underlines the ambiguity of signs and cultural codes which represent a reality that often escapes...