Having completed an MFA at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HFBK) in Hamburg, Frieda Toranzo Jaeger uses painting to explore ideas of hybridity, sexuality, and autonomy. Rejecting concerns of technique or virtuosity, Toranzo Jaeger’s interest in painting is both conceptual and political. Her recent work draws on technological advancements to the automobile, historically a symbol of everyday alienation, speed, and violence. The artist’s interest in machines began as she wrote her thesis in postcolonial theory; during this process, she began to understand the electric car—unlike its gas-powered counterpart—as essentially feminine. Associated with the late-capitalist fantasies of technological emancipation, the driverless car seemed to contain the impossible coupling of socialist utopian fantasies within a capitalist framework.
In her 2019 solo show Deep Adaptation at Galerie Barbara Weiss, Toranzo Jaeger exhibited 12 oil paintings, a selection of which depicted electric cars from the perspective looking above or into an empty interior—the subject matter was thus closely tied to the space and proportions of the human body. While the interiors appear like fever dreams of sleek technological advancement, all of the models are taken from existing machinery that is in development. Using hinged and folding canvases that open outward, many of the paintings open and close not unlike the vehicles themselves. Many of the paintings feature motifs embroidered directly onto the canvas using traditional Mexican Aboriginal techniques practiced by the artist and her family. The embroidery is completed in Mexico by the artist’s mother and her circle of women. Toranzo Jaeger describes the embroidery as “an act of epistemological disobedience against painting.”
During her time at Callie’s in 2019, Toranzo Jaeger created the installation and accompanying performance …And yet we are becoming for the KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Although Toranzo Jaeger has often made impromptu solo performances or readings, this was her first official performance commission. The installation consisted of a large three-dimensional artwork that was as much painting as sculpture as stage. Containing the bodies themselves, the panels of the painting opened, resembling the wings of a futuristic vehicle from which the performers emerged, following a choreography set to a poem composed by the artist.