In her multimedia installation Zen for Hoejabi, comissioned for SITUATIONS/Porn, Anna Ehrenstein explores the idea of authenticity and its present-day distribution, commodification and circulation. The work focuses on the everyday use of the religiously connoted hijab, which she has witnessed being additionally used as a fashion accessory and even as a practical mobile phone holder. Ehrenstein – herself a member of the Albanian diaspora in Germany – deals with this phenomenon and with the increasingly pervasive feature of digital networks, in two 3D-printed busts and two video works looped on Huawei smartphones.
Ehrenstein’s musings on the displacement of meaning and function in cultural objects are complemented by reflections on certain ideas and moral attitudes that are currently in flux – including our understanding of what constitutes an original, an appropriation or an imitation. For this purpose, the artist exhibits lenticular prints of fake goods, with references to ‘busta accounts’, which have emerged in the context of the fashion industry and are used to check the authenticity of branded products illustrated on photographs. The installation's central elements ultimately address questions of representation and power relations in the dynamic realm in which cultural identity is forged and definitions are negotiated – processes that increasingly follow a capitalist logic governed by digitally circulating images.
Text: Doris Gassert