Sexual taboos, myth and montage: Linder’s provocative collages

In Stockholm, British artist Linder is destabilising normative ideas of sexuality in a new series of photomontages

Linder Envy would praise his beauty, 2020 Photomontage
Envy would praise his beauty, 2020 Photomontage. 
(Image credit: the artist and Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Paris)

Since emerging from Manchester’s punk scene in the 1970s, Linder Sterling has been dragging the underbellies of consumerism into plain sight. Using the visual language of pornography fused with images of banal domestic interiors in neo-Richard Hamilton twists, she has deployed unflinchingly feminist celebrations of sexuality and questioned society’s deeply-rooted perceptions of it. 

From Orgasm Addict – her big-break cover for Buzzcocks’ first single in 1977 – to her first major retrospective at Kettle’s Yard last year, Linder has subverted the very mechanics of popular culture, destabilised conventional ideas of sexuality, and brought the inner workings of the mass media into question. 

Linder, Fragrant sap, 2021 Photomontage

Fragrant sap, 2021 Photomontage. 

(Image credit: the artist and Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Paris)

As with her best-known work, Linder’s new show ‘Someone Like You’ at Andréhn-Schiptjenko gallery in Stockholm sees fragments of printed media from 1910 onwards fused into elegant photomontages. Disparate clippings rub up against each other in an orgy of desire in its many guises. 

In this latest body of finely scalpelled works, Linder discusses the almost-undiscussable. She delves into the triad myth of Pygmalion, Myrrha and Adonis – this is Greco-Roman mythology, but possibly not as you know it.

Linder has deep-dived into the Myrrha myth

Transient time slips by, 2021 Photomontage. 

(Image credit: the artist and Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Paris)

Over the last five years, Linder has deep-dived into the Myrrha myth, consulting with classicists for opinion, inserting the story into contemporary studies on the queer body and heteronormativity, and researching the biases within classics and ancient texts. 

To synopsise, the myth in question, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses: Book X, emerges out of the warped sexuality of Myrrha’s great-grandfather, Pygmalion, who, in a moment of autoeroticism, falls in love with a statue of an idealised female that he’s carved from ivory. 

Linder, Galatea, 2021 Photomontage

Galatea, 2021 Photomontage. 

(Image credit: the artist and Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Paris)

There’s no skirting around it, the Myrrha myth explores female incest, in contrast to the more widely-known myth of Oedipus, synonymous with male incest. As punishment for her incestual sins, Myrrha is transformed into a tree, giving birth to Adonis from her trunk nine months later. As she weeps in remorse, her tears transform into the aromatic resin, myrrh.

There’s a lot to digest between the creases of these low-tech photomontages. But perhaps the overriding myth here is not that of taboo Greco-Roman exploits, but a myth of heteronormativity.

Linder, A flower the colour of blood, 2021 Photomontage

A flower the colour of blood, 2021 Photomontage. 

(Image credit: the artist and Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Paris)

Linder Herbs and charms that heal, 2021 Photomontage

Herbs and charms that heal, 2021 Photomontage.

(Image credit: the artist and Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Paris)

INFORMATION
Linder, ‘Someone Like You’, until 22 May, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm. andrehn-schiptjenko.com

ADDRESS

Linnégatan 31
114 47 Stockholm

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Harriet Lloyd-Smith is the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.

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