J.Jackie Baier (Kiel, 1955) is a noted filmmaker and photographer based in Berlin who has been producing art photography since the mid 90’s, amassing an impressive oeuvre of rough and poetic images, a “broken mirror” of queer and transgender life in Berlin’s musical and sexual subcultures. Her work presents us with a deeply personal and unglamorized view of the city’s sexual underground, moving with her camera through the city’s clubs, brothels, bars and streets.
Baier, who moved to Berlin in 1993 and officially became a woman in 1997, portrays in a non-voyeuristic way the lives of transgender prostitutes, drag queens and other “misfits.” Her work has been compared to artists like Nan Goldin, Jack Smith and Kenneth Anger, for the way she portrays (and exemplifies) a highly talented, unadapted, sexually anarchic urban community.
The artist’s portraits show her interests in a broader political discourse, dealing with „migration as movement between countries, classes and sexes,“ as the artist puts it. Aiming to achieve its right of visual representation, Baier shows the often invisible face of gender migration across decades.
An important photographic work group, “Berliner Fleisch,” intimately depicts the world of transgender sex work. Depicting a mix of dark and light portraits of transgender women sex workers on the streets and in private homes of Berlin, Berliner Fleisch shows on one hand their striking fashion, makeup and personalities. On the other hand, Baier reveals these womens’ struggles with physical and psychological abuse, their bruises and scars, and their abandonment out in the cold of Berlin’s streets. Exhibited to critical acclaim at several European art institutions, this body of work provoked controversial media reactions.
Recent films of Baier have documented the lives of noted Berlin transgenders. “HOUSE OF SHAME / Chantal All Night Long,” a film/photo project in which Baier follows the life of Chantal, Berlin club hostess and queer icon, across ten years. It begins with the escape from a mundane life in a small country town of southwest Germany in 1980 to the dark depths of Berlin, where Chantal would become involved in the squat scene of the 80s and eventually become the host of Chantal’s House of Shame. Described joyfully by Baier as “the time after the Deluge,” Chantal’s House of Shame is a queer party in Berlin that has been running for well over 10 years. Baier had been artistically photographing the event almost since its inception, capturing over 60,000 negatives. Throughout the portrayal of backstage gossip, the problematics of sex work and gender performances, “HOUSE OF SHAME / Chantal All Night Long” remains at the centre of Baier’s historical portrayal of transgender and queer life in Berlin, through the story of Chantal. The feature length film had its premiere at the 2011 Berlinale, and subsequently received the 1st Prize Dokumentar at the LGBT Festival Chéries-Chéris in Paris.
The next film in her transgender trilogy, “JULIA” is both an intense art photography portfolio as well as a celebrated and lauded 2013 full length documentary film about a Lithuanian Berlin streetwalker. For more than ten years, Baier followed the film’s protagonist, Julia, on her escapades throughout the city and in her home country, reflecting on her social positioning, perception, her aspirations, and the motivations behind her non-conformist life. Some of J.Jackie Baier’s most inventive and touching art photography portrays Julia and her colleagues. Baier’s Julia Portfolio was presented at SomoS in 2013 as part of Rule 34. A breakthrough in terms of recognition, JULIA’s production was supported by the Künstlerischen Filmförderung Medienboard and had its premiere at the 2013 “Venice Days” as part of the Venice Film Festival. It was screened at the 2014 Outview Fest Athens (Best Documentary Film Award); TLV Fest Tel-Aviv; LGBT Fest Lisboa; Side by Side Fest, St. Petersburg (1st Prize, Journalist Jury); and the Int. Film Fest Guadalajara 2014 (Primo Maguey Jury Special Mention).
Baier has presented her work in cooperations with SomoS’ curators since many years, notably in her solo show “Nocturnes” and the Berlin Month of Photography 2010 group show “Streeple” (both at the forerunner of SomoS, named Kunstraum Richard Sorge). More recently, Baier’s photo “Cybersissy and Babyjane” appeared in the group exhibition Empathische Tribunale at SomoS in November 2019.
J.Jackie Baier holds a Master of Arts in Literature and Linguistics from the University of Essen. Since the 1980s, Baier has worked as production manager and later on director for film and television productions, at the same time producing and directing independent documentaries and shorts, including feature-length compilation film MISSION – Film of Peace and its War (International Forum/Berlinale 1983). Baier wrote and directed two feature films, Die Splitter der Eisbombe (Splitters of Ice Bomb, 1985) and Frühstück für Feinde (Breakfast of Enemies, 1988), for German television station ZDF.
Her work has been exhibited in many solo exhibitions across Europe and internationally, including „Das Royal-Portfolio“, Bucerius Law School, Hamburg, 2016, „Art 4 Social Change“, warehouse9, Copenhagen, 2012, „Nocturnes“, Kunstraum Richard Sorge, Berlin, Germany 2010, „The Portrait Project“, warehouse 9 / Danish Arts Council, CopenhagenDK, 2009, „Sehnsucht“, Galerie Lichtpunkt / Ambacher Contemporary, Munich, Germany, 2009, „Hole Lotta Love/Loch voll Liebe“, FENZ Kunstraum, Cologne, Germany, 2009, „Berliner Fleisch“, warehouse 9, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2007, „Berliner Fleisch“, FENZ Kunstraum, Cologne, Germany, 2007 and „We Will Fall“, Art & Henle, Berlin, Germany, 2005.
Baier’s work has also appeared in many group exhibitions, including La Splendeur Divine, group exhibition with Elfi Mikesch et al., Barbiche, Berlin, 2018, Urban Maze, Agency York, Cologne, 2013, “Rule 34”, SomoS, Berlin, Germany, 2013, Alter Angle – Berlin Fashion Week Artists’ Spotlight 2013, SomoS, Berlin, Germany, 2013, “Not a Car”, LAAA – Los Angeles Art Association, Los Angeles, USA, 2011, European Photography Month: Streeple, Kunstraum Richard Sorge, Berlin, Germany 2010 and the seminal „SEXWORK – Kunst, Mythos, Realität“, NGBK, Haus am Kleistpark, Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany, 2006/7 (catalog).
Art fairs that Baier has participated in include La Crèche, Berliner Kunstsalon, Berlin, Germany, 2010, Preview Berlin, Germany 2009, contemporary art ruhr (C.A.R.) Essen, Germany 2010, and III. Tease Art Fair, Cologne, Germany (catalog), 2009.
Her work is part of private collections in Berlin, Hamburg, Köln, Copenhagen, Potsdam, Munich.
J.Jackie Baier homepage:www.jackielynn.de