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Rhea Maria Dehn, M.A.

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Short vita

Rhea Maria Dehn, M.A,

is a PhD student in Art History (since 2020) and works in the department of Fashion & Aesthetics as a research assistant (since 2020) at the Technische Universität Darmstadt. Under the working title On the 'other' side: El Estrecho de Gibraltar. Border Geographies, Migration and Identity Politics in Contemporary Art, she investigates, from an art historical perspective, the constantly changing conception of the understanding of border, migration and identity. Taking postcolonial and global studies into account, she focuses on the border region between southern Spain and North Africa by focusing on contemporary positions.

She studied Art History and Romanic Studies at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main and at the Universitat de Barcelona (Spain). In her master's thesis, Re-interpretations of the Veil. Politics of Representation with Lalla Essaydi, Majida Khattari and Yumna Al-Arashi (2019), she examined the artistic spaces of action in a Western-influenced 'Oriental discourse'. She was a curatorial intern at the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt am Main (2019), where she accompanied the exhibition Contemporary Muslim Fashions and moderated a panel on Fashion and Art during the Contemporary Muslim Fashions Forum.

Research interests

Postcolonial theory and gender studies of the 19th to 21st century in art and cultural history. Intertwining of art and popular culture. Discourses of alterity and construction processes and their visualization and negotiation through Contemporary Art. Art History in a global context, transculturality

PhD project: On the 'other' side: El Estrecho de Gibraltar. Border geographies, migration and identity politics in contemporary art

Since the 1990s, images of migrants and the inhumane conditions of their journey along the Mediterranean route have established a media reporting system that predominantly plays into the hands of conservative politics. At the same time, the documentary genre became essential in artistic production in order to draw attention to areas marked as social problems (Nail 2019: 61). The history, equally marked by exchange and conflict, the special geographical constellation resulting from the Strait of Gibraltar, and last but not least the exemplary establishment of a European border regime since the Schengen Agreement (1991), determine the complexity of the Spanish-Moroccan border as an object of research.

The concept of the border is to be analysed as a productive space in order to ask how artists* perceive, explore and negotiate borders. The focus will be on video works that deal with the Spanish-Moroccan border: Leila Kilani's film Le rêve des brûleurs (2002), Ursula Biemann's video essay Europlex (2003), Yto Barradas La Contrebandière (2006), Rogelio Lopez Cuencas Walls (2006), Antoni Muntadas On Translation: Miedo/Jauf (2007), The Mapping Journey Project (2008-2011) by Bouchra Khalili, Matthias Kispert's work No More Beyond (2017) and Randa Maroufi's film Bab Septa (2019). The film is not to be reduced to the aesthetics of an artistic medium, however, but rather understood as a means of social debate, social action and the reinterpretation of political discourse. The following questions will be asked on the basis of the package: How is the linkage between geography, globalization and migration specifically negotiated through media art using the example of the Moroccan-Spanish border? Which role does art, both production and reception, play in the context of conservative politics? Which new approaches to negotiation and perspectives can be generated through art? To what extent can artistic works offer or reproduce a platform for alternative image production and fix the voyeuristic and social-deterministic dimension of the documentary?

In the project, the changing conception of border and its visualization will be elaborated based on the named artworks. The understanding of the border as a clearly defined line of power, as a foundation and stabilizer of power relations, as a third space (Bhabha 2000), as a regime and as a space of control and surveillance, which is characterized by the figure of the migrants and their cross-border movement (Schimanski and Wolfe 2017), coexist. The performative character of crossing serves as a point of reflection and starting point for questioning socially established dualities. In this way, not only the constructed nature of the border, but also the figuration of the migrants from a post-migrant perspective is detached from the ascribed static characteristics and redefined, understood and reflected upon through mobility (Drogramaci 2019: 10). Art forms an often unjustly neglected, extremely productive level of negotiation for socio-political issues, as is particularly evident in documentary media art. In view of the connection between borders and migration, understood as oppositions of statics and mobility, the moving image serves as the negotiating level par excellence in artistic production.



The female body as subject of the Discourse of Power, in: Viola Thimm (Hg): (Re-)Claiming Bodies through Fashion and Style. Gendered Configurations in Muslim Contexts, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, (in preparation).

El poder del cuerpo femenino (with Zahira Dehn), in: VI edición de Mujeres Mirando Mujeres. Arte y Feminismo, (in preparation).

Der Schleier: Nexus zwischen Kunst und Mode, in: Ausst.-Kat. Contemporary Muslim Fashion, Museum Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main: MAK 2019, pp. 29-30.


“Mode und Kunst”, an interview with Isra Abdu and Tasnim Baghdadi as part of the “Contemporary Muslim Fashions Forum” at the Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, April 13, 2019.