The “Kabinett der neuen Abteilungsleiterin” (Cabinet of the new head of the department”) by Frauke Gerhard in the back lounge of the youth club was an almost museal set-up, designed to create intimacy and a dense athmosphere for a personal encounter with her works. On a wall dyed with dark red pigment there was a series of paintings of the female ‘blue-collar’ head of the department, taken within a timespan of nearly 10 years. Reminiscent of icon painting and breviary illustrations, they are depictions of Gerhard’s alter ego: the blue work overall replaces the cloak of the Madonna. The images link up with performances and other projects by Gerhard, in which the necessities of daily life as an artist and as a mother are presented as deeply and consciously interrelated. Among other projects, Frauke Gerhard took on the responsibility of caring for a neglected playground in her immediate Cologne neighbourhood and initiated a “communal, cross-generational art and communication practice’—based project: COMTAINER STATION. The playground in combination with two containers set up by her, served as studio and toolsheds, garden and meeting-place. By actively involving the neighbourhood she initiated exhibitions, planting and other gardening activities and created informal opportunuties for conversations and exchanges. In the Cabinet, her self portraits as a mother, the continously transforming rendering of her big belly representing pregnancy, the globe, a garden, reflect these experiences in a very personal and provocatively spiritual language of imagery, of femininity, motherhood and connection to the Earth.
The pictures show a cycle of constant rebirth of initiative and responsibility. On one of her pictures the head of the department is visible, surrounded by many other ‘blue-collar’ personages, a whole number of alter egos, who in turn put on work-overalls and thereby symbolically take on their share of initiative and workload.