A Woman’s Place (semiotics of the domestic) emphasizes how a woman and her implements disrupt the familiar system of everyday meanings. An all-female crew will conduct a production pour to encompass the live aspect. The performance features “a daily routine” parallel the conceptual aesthetic of the domestic.
The presence of women in industry, specifically foundry work continues to bear concerns and prove challenging; this performance is an attempt to celebrate a female presence and to work with international artists to form dialogues and expand my practice employing collaborative exchanges.
This performance is supported by the Arts Council of Wales International Grant Fund.
A Woman’s Place (semiotics of the domestic) became a celebration of a female presence among International artists to form dialogues and expand practices employing collaborative exchanges.
The performance became an enduring display of women surrounded and embracing metal (iron) and object (domestic). We did not anticipate the duration of the performance that led to an extension of actions and movements by the female only crews. There became a clear collaboration between the scene of domestic objects and women geared up in their leather’s working through the heat and dirt of iron casting. I began to question the purpose of the ‘chosen’ objects and how and why they were destroyed in action. What is curious about the work is how it has taken on the history and energy of the National Historic Landmark of Sloss Furnaces; creating a collaboration between the National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices and Wales.
What became a focal element in the performance was the series of sequences choreographed by the crew; carrying a ladle full of molten iron to their chosen object for a moment of destruction and clarity. It became apparent that the work took on a new direction of empowerment for women and became a pivotal moment of realization for myself as the artist and my crew who work directly with iron as a focal material in their practice. What was particularly curious was the experience of the audience witnessing and observing the work; questioning as to whether the viewer becomes a participant or an observer of the work.
Detailed view of the endurance of hoovering the rug that was laden with molten iron and the gruelling action and ‘daily’ ritual as a woman; the expected role of a woman as we know and experience. This action was such a powerful moment for my practice and the realization of how it is shifting towards a focus on impermanence of the aftermath of a living material such as iron and an object.
A Woman’s Place (semiotics of the domestic) was supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Wales Arts International Fund.
The role of women in sculpture has become a focal point of research in my practice by confronting and challenging the social aspects of gender relations through performative actions. The presence of women in industry, specifically foundry work continues to bear concerns and prove challenging. Recent contextual influences have included Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen, 1975 who was focused on punctuating the rage of frustration of oppressive women’s roles and exploring the transformation of the woman. These ambitious and empowering works have initiated a focus in my practice to closely examine maintenance and action art; and to consider how I can utilise space to conform with contemporary performative sculptural works.
Martha Rosler Semiotics of the Kitchen 1975
In this performance Rosler takes on the role of an apron-clad housewife and parodies the television cooking demonstrations popularized by Julia Child in the 1960s. Standing in a kitchen, surrounded by refrigerator, table, and stove, she moves through the alphabet from A to Z, assigning a letter to the various tools found in this domestic space. Wielding knives, a nutcracker, and a rolling pin, she warms to her task, her gestures sharply punctuating the rage and frustration of oppressive women’s roles. Rosler has said of this work, “I was concerned with something like the notion of ‘language speaking the subject,’ and with the transformation of the woman herself into a sign in a system of signs that represent a system of food production, a system of harnessed subjectivity.” https://www.moma.org/collection/works/88937
Rosler among others such as Judy Chicago, Mary Kelly and Mierle Laderman Ukeles engage in speculative feminist utopian thought by which they attempt to rearticulate the terms of public and private in ways that might fashion new possibilities for both spheres and the labor they entail. Rosler’s interest in labor is what has driven a key focus in my current practice through an exploration of process (casting) and material (iron).