Who was Milli? An Intervention by Natasha A. Kelly   27.04.2022 – 23.07.2023

Who was Milli? An Intervention by Natasha A. Kelly

Since spring 2022, the Kunsthalle Bremen will present an artistic intervention by Natasha A. Kelly in the collection exhibition “Remix”. The academic, author, activist and artist explored the Black model Milli, recognizable from many works by the members of the artists’ group of Die Brücke.

Natasha A. Kelly’s starting point is the painting Sleeping Milli (1911) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, which can be found in the Kunsthalle Bremen’s collection. In her intervention, embedded in the collection exhibition, Kelly comments on depictions of Milli and other portraits of models painted by Kirchner. In her research, Kelly analysed clichés that objectivize, exoticize and eroticize Black women while simultaneously telling German history from a Black feminist perspective.

Natasha A. Kelly is a visiting professor at the Institute of Media Studies at the University of Tübingen in the summer semester of 2022. She has received numerous awards including the 2018 Black Laurel Film Award for her film “Milli’s Awakening” (2018) and was appointed the 2021 Frauenringsfrau by the Deutsche Frauenring. In April 2021, she published the Spiegel magazine bestseller “Rassismus. Strukturelle Probleme brauchen strukturelle Lösungen” (“Racism. Structural Problems need structural Solutions”), which she wrote in reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Sleeping Milli, 1911
Oil on canvas, 64 x 92 cm, Kunsthalle Bremen – Der Kunstverein in Bremen


(Fig. exhibition overview: Installation view Sleeping Milli (1911) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in the collection display „Remix“ at the Kunsthalle Bremen, photo: Marcus Meyer Photography |Fig. above: Natasha A. Kelly, video still of Milli's Awakening, 2018 (Detail))

Supported by the programmme 360° - Fund for New City Cultures: