“Loving Venus in Scorpio is like loving a creature who wants desperately to, but feels as though they must refrain from, eating you alive.”1

Venus in Scorpio focuses on the history of modern architecture, and its intimate relationship with disease and the home: the domain of the chronically ill and disabled. Using both Le Corbusier’s infamous LC4 and LC2 arm and lounge chairs, as well as Youden’s own collection of mobility aids and medical devices as a point of departure, Youden offers a reevaluation of these home furnishings; examining how their shared aesthetics are not pure coincidence, but instead, a telling of their shared history:

“Modern Architecture, launched in the 1920s by an international group of avant-garde architects, has usually been understood in terms of functional efficiency, new materials (glass, iron, reinforced concrete), new technologies of construction, and the machine aesthetic…In contrast to how modern architecture was actually shaped by the dominant medical obsession of its time – tuberculosis and the technology that became associated by it X-Rays…we are still living in the architecture shaped by [tuberculosis]…Modern architecture remains the default everyday environment, the norm produced by vast industrial systems, rather than the transgressive work of an avant-garde inspired by a specific disease. Modernity was driven by illness. The engine of modern architecture was not a heroic, shiny functional machine suspended outside daily life in a protective cocoon of new technologies and geometries. It is the difficulty of each breath and therefore the treasure of each breath: the melancholy of modernity.”2 

In the past, Youden has been known to create large scale sculptural installations that function as communal spaces and sites for her performances that take rest, recovery, and care as their central axis. For this exhibition, Youden has produced six individual sculptural works that focus on the systems and their histories that continue to oppress the disabled and chronically ill. Specifically, the eugenicist, patriarchal, and white supremacist histories embedded in these home furnishings and how the mechanism within these systems intentionally conceal them  – allowing these items to become everyday objects, mundane enough to be used without question, as medical devices, luxury commodities, and objects of desire.

Youden confronts these histories through the act of queering these home furnishings, with such gestures as: charm bracelet spell casting, emasculation through bimbofication, body modification, highlighting the importance of queer gender and sexual representation in early 2000s anime, using tools from 12 step programs, including publications written by disabled, trans, and queer authors, self defensive weapons, and abolition of police and mutual aid resources. With these devices and the aesthetics of the vampire as a queer chronically ill archetype, a ‘delusional’ romanticisation of mental illness, and the ‘inferiority’ of cuteness to dispower the object3 Youden continues what is at the core of her practice – the sharing of her survival strategies as a queer, chronically ill and disabled person navigating an ableist world. These works leave room for further reflection on how, even within their homes, where the chronically ill and disabled live most of their lives, these systems of oppression and violence are inherent – making these sculptures and the daily lives of the ill an act of resistance.

Lauryn Youden (b. 1989, Canada) is a poet, performance and installation artist based in Berlin, Germany. Her practice derives from her research in and navigation through the medical industrial complex / colonial medicine, ‘alternative’ healing practices and traditional medicine for the treatment of her chronic illnesses and disabilities. By publicly presenting her personal experiences and re-evaluations of history, her work illuminates and advocates for repressed, marginalized and forgotten forms of radical care and Crip knowledge.

In 2016 Youden was awarded the Berlin Art Prize. She has since been awarded residences at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (DE) in 2020, Rupert, Vilnius (LT) in 2021 and Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (UK) with Sickness Affinity Group (SAG) in 2021. She has performed and exhibited internationally at institutions including (selection): Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL), Museion Bolzano (IT), Tabakalera, San Sebastian (ES), Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau (CH), Frye Art Museum, Seattle (US), Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis (USA), 11th Berlin Biennale, Berlin (DE), Manifesta 12, Palermo (IT), Shedhalle, Zurich (CH), Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart (DE), Volksbühne, Berlin (DE), Musik Installationen Nürnberg (DE) and Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (DE). This year her works are included in upcoming exhibitions and events at Migros Museum, Zurich (CH), Kunsthalle Zurich (CH) and E-WERK Luckenwalde (DE).

The exhibition is supported by Canada Council for the Arts.


1 Alice Sparkly Cat, Loving Venus in Scorpio (2022)

2 Beatriz Colomina, X-Ray Architecture (Lars Müller Publishers, 2019)

3 Sianne Ngai, The Cuteness of the Avant‐Garde (Critical Inquiry, 2005)