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Ovartaci at Museum im Lagerhaus, St. Gallen

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until March 1, 2020

For the first time in Switzerland, Museum im Lagerhaus presents the life’s work of Danish artist Louis Marcussen, aka Ovartaci, (1894–1985). Ovartaci was an inmate at psychiatric institutions for 56 years and lived in trans identities, turning her/his surroundings into a unique universe.

Museum im Lagerhaus
Davidstrasse 44, 9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland
www.museumimlagerhaus.ch

From Museum im Lagerhaus' Press Release:

Louis Marcussen, aka Ovartaci (1894–1985), can be described as the Danish Wölfli. The Museum im
Lagerhaus is now presenting this extraordinary life’s work for the first time in Switzerland. Throughout
his/her life Ovartaci dealt with the theme of transformation. Pictures, sculptures, and even f lying
machines reflect fantasies about various cycles of reincarnation in his/her life – whether as a butterfly,
a bird, a puma, or a tiger. Numerous female figures and puppets, ranging from small to nearly life-size
and made of paper, cardboard, or papier maché, served as soulmates with whom Ovartaci surrounded
him-/herself in the room and which he/she painted on the walls and the bed. They point to Ovartaci’s
longing to embody the opposite sex opposite sex, to get rid of his male sex drive. Through self-
castration, he ultimately made the transition from man to woman.
‘Ovartaci’ was the name that she/he chose for him-/herself in the early 1930s, the alter ego, based on
the Jutland dialect word Overtossi, meaning ‘chief patient.’ However, around the end of her/his life
Ovartaci returned to the original civil name. Trained as a painter and decorator, Ovartaci was an
inmate at psychiatric institutions for 56 years. After Dalstrup in Djursland (1932–1942), where she/he
had the opportunity to paint the chapel, his/her longest stay was at the psychiatric hospital in the
Risskov district of Århus. Ovartaci was respected. She/he was the ‘prima donna’ of the clinic, was
given personal privileges, and the doctors enjoyed conversing with her/him. In this protected
environment, Ovartaci lived in trans identities and turned her/his surroundings into a unique universe.