'Looking in a handbag is a really strict taboo': Artist paid women 400 to reveal personal items for new exhibition
16:33 GMT, 11 April 2012
Most women would be left red-faced at just the thought of divulging the contents of their handbags.
But one artist, who has always been fascinated with discovering what hidden treasures women keep in their purses, has convinced several women to do just that for a new exhibition.
Hans-Peter Feldmann paid six friends and acquaintances 500 Euros to part with their belongings – including their mobile phones and keys.
Look familiar Oriane, 27, from Berlin, has a purse, sunglasses, notebook, gallery guide, plastic bag, a pair of flat shoes, make-up, a spare button, tampons, hairband, plastic bracelet handed out at events, Issey Miyake deodorant, a cosmetics bag, Orthropax ear plugs, Asprin, several receipts and business cards, keys, discarded chewing gum and a phone
The German artist had the items placed on a flat surface and traditional museum vitrines for visitors to inspect.
The objects will not look unfamiliar to many women, who pack their lives into their handbags – often leaving belongings and forgetting them for several months.
One black leather tote includes receipts, sunglasses, a pair of flat shoes, roll-up tobacco, Asprin and tampons. Another includes five pens, a notebook and a tourist map.
Another handbag contains contact lens solution, make-up, hairband, tickets, receipts and business-cards, two coin purses, pens, credit card, five pens, earphones, a notebook with arabic writing that translates to 'local artist', a passport holder, tampon and mobile phone
Fortunately for the handbag owners, they were allowed to keep passports and money was photocopied for the installations.
Although anonymous, the work does list their first name, age and home city.
Feldmann explains his interest in women's personal belongings dates back to when he was a child.
He told The Guardian: 'I remember my mother and her handbag and it was a taboo to look at what was in it, a really strict taboo.'
Stephanie, 43, from Paris, has a hairbrush, camera, a packet of Marlboro Lights and is clearly a fan of Haribo sweets
Susanne, 43, from Berlin, reveals a severe smoking habit and a love of Chanel nail polish and make-up. She also keeps a notebook, hair pins and loose change in her bag
The Serpentine Gallery retrospective covers 40 years of art by the artist.
Born in Germany in 1941, Feldmann soon became a key figure in the Dsseldorf art scene and is a contemporary of Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke.
Through his lifelong dedication to collecting, Feldmann has called attention to the cultural material that surrounds us by gathering images and everyday objects from disparate sources into meticulous installations.
Visitors will also be able to take away an ‘unlimited edition’ print of a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II as a young girl.
Hans-Peter Feldmann, 11 April – 5 June, Serpentine Gallery, www.serpentinegallery.org