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Ahlers works with the concepts of “soft sculpture,” in which mainly malleable soft materials are used, and “shell sculpture,” which is based on forms that are made to protect soft materials from external violence. She finds models and ideas for her own thoughts in historical contexts from the cultural sciences and popular culture. An example that Ahlers has used for her works is the motif of the “codpiece,” which on the one hand was an element in dominant male fashion in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and on the other hand is used as a protective item in the martial arts and sports today.
Melanie Ohnemus (Director Kunsthaus Glarus, 2022)
Even if her works do not celebrate a spectacle of the female body, their background is feminist all the same. And not only for the reason that they address themes like the ban on facesitting in Great Britain, the centuries-long persecution of witches, or new potential contraceptives for men, but also because they are imbued with a fundamental body positivity that extends beyond genders. This affirmation of the body refers to its potential, which Ahlers seeks to fathom, expand and change in her works, for example, by isolating and recontextualizing, belittling or macroscopically focusing on individual body parts so as to undermine fixed definitions and attributions. In this sense, Ahlers is intent not on exploiting but on appropriating and reclaiming bodies in her works.
Stefanie Kleefeld (Director, Halle für Kunst Lüneburg, 2012-2020)