There has been a sudden shift in my practice this week in relation to exploring performance and new organic materials. I’ve realised how the body and form is crucial and is the core to my making and material process. After studying the nylon tights forms, the artist Hans Bellmer came to mind and his study of the anatomy of the body and this portrayal through his dolls, drawings and photography. Instantly I saw a resemblance in our work, the scale of the sculptural works was a specific area of interest. Bellmer’s dolls were childlike and of child proportion; why was this? This question was raised with the tights forms. Is there a connection? My initial thought was to play on the innocence of children against the aggressive and sexual nature and tendency of the work. After researching and reading further on Bellmer’s practice, a clear link is associated between our relationship with materials and the incorporation of objects and sculptural elements or materials to produce the work.
The use of the organic materials becomes a challenging aspect to explore and to understand their qualities. Bellmer’s dolls are somewhat sexual toys for his personal gratification, however do or could become a fetish for male and/or female viewers. Looking back to when I was working with the bread dough, the qualities of the material; the fleshiness quality of touch and the colour instantly became a portrayal of fat. I began to think, what else could I use that has a similar quality? Lard, it is a solid mass of fat. However, its texture after touch becomes soft and eventually will melt. I wish to explore these qualities using my own body; rubbing this pure block of fat over my own skin and fat. How will I document this? Do I film the performance? Do I only use still photography? I’m curious to explore the qualities of the lard and a personal relationship with my materials by using the body.
The foam works that I was exploring last term have recently been cast in bronze and again have an instant organic and raw feel about them. The form and texture of the cast is alluring, the qualities of the foam have been captured and frozen in bronze. Instantly I see a connection and resemblance to Bellmer’s dolls, the bulging and emphasis of the fat and tension on the skin. The form has an organic and phallic nature; it resembles a piece of meat or a lump of flesh.
Cast bronze form in its raw state.
A new term, new module and fresh start. The feedback I received from last term was brilliant, helpful and it’s always a bonus having a distinction to end the term with; regardless of the grade it always gives you that lift and boost of confidence. I’ve began new research, exploring different artists that engage with my current and new ideas and concepts to pursue. However the feedback I had was that I need to read more around my area of interest, for example, performance is an area I wish to explore further. I touched upon this during last term with the recording of the nylon tights and expanding foam; however I never gave the work time to develop. I was researching performance and sculpture, process and object. The next body of work will involve an exploration of materials through performance and object. However materials and the process of making is always a direct point of contact in my work.
I’ve been researching the works of Doris Salcedo and Carol Rama, both fascinating artists; I’m particularly drawn to their use of materials and scale of work. Salcedo’s use of industrial materials that integrate with domestic objects and Rama’s sculptural works using bicycle, camera tubes and iron. In reference to performance and organic elements that I have previously addressed and used in my work; I have began looking at Janine Antoni and Paul McCarthy. It came to the attention during my feedback that looking at food as a medium raises the question of consumption. The body in relation to food, the relationship we have with food and how this impacts on our appearance. I had been exploring the body and form through the manipulation of the foam works that were both cast in bronze and some left in their raw state. This contrast of material, soft to hard and vice versa raised questions of the human body and how we strive for perfection. The soft foam was squidgy, soft and easily malleable, the bronze had a hard exterior, kept it’s form and was almost ‘perfect’. There was a certain quality that evoked the work, the study of surgery, the removal of fat or skin and the aim to achieve perfection.
Janine Antoni ‘Gnaw’
Paul McCarthy ‘Hot Dogs’
The research talk we had by Cathy Davies on ‘Material Girl’ bodies, skin and fabric was fantastic and interesting in relation to her own practice and research but also her work ethic and how she linked her presentation back to our own ways of researching and analysing our own practice. Her main focus was on death, and how visual culture explores and investigates the dead body. She had recently been exploring the film ‘The skin I live in’, paying particular attention to the John Paul Gaultier suite that was produced to portray a new layer of skin and identity of the main female character. The concept of the liminal body and materiality of the body is alluring; paying particular attention to the aesthetic in imagery. What I found most interesting was her focus and attention to the materials and textures and how they all have meanings; the creative decision of what forms are created in relation to chosen materials. Cathy talked a lot about stitching and fabric and how it relates to the body and poses as a second skin on humans. This instantly brought me back to my use of the nylon tights, latex and sewing through the wax sheets.
I had never analysed skin in such a manner before attending this lecture and listening to Cathy’s research. Skin is always an element of the body that is praised for it’s versatility; however the imperfections and exploration of the skin suggests otherwise. Skin is therefore not a barrier but a wall, it acts as a container of some sort and it’s function is to create a form. There is a question of identity and a psychlogical notion of the body that is an area of interest and link to my practice. There is always a notion of fear of the body, deterioration of form and skin, we are all slowly decomposing.
Not making work for the last two weeks has enabled me to sit back and really think and take the time to analyse my work. What have I made? What is its context? What do I continue working with? What do I take on to the next level for further development? The casting of the foam forms needs further work and time to develop; however the originals and first forms that I began working with are yet to be cast in bronze so I’m unsure and unaware at how they will cast and how the textures and forms will come out from the moulds.
The other element is the filming of the tights and expanding foam, this whole concept needs more time and exploration. Do they stay as objects, as sculptural art works? Is the work object or process? Sculpture or performance? These are the areas of enquiry and investigation that I need to invest the time and work with the film examples.
Foundry Day – Women in the foundry
The experience of working entirely with women in a male dominated environment was invigorating and a refreshing experience; I’ve always been surrounded by men throughout my foundry experience. It was interesting to explore and analyse how women engage with the casting process; the physical activity of the foundry can be challenging at times due to the duration of the set-up and pour. The work is singular, however the process and casting of the work is always a team experience. There is that question of gender and the workplace. From previous experience, I have worked with both men and women when pouring the metal and running the furnace; I fund that ego and ‘sex’ plays it’s role during the entire process. For example, a pour involves a high amount of physical activity, therefore the male feels that they can dominate and are more capable. This isn’t necessarily always the case, however I do find myself questioning whether men think that as women and as a female working in this environment, both past and present of whether men find women capable of working and positioning ourselves in this ‘male associated’ environment and industry. Does this question happen in all foundry settings? Is there a difference, a different atmosphere in a working/industry foundry or a foundry situated in an academic environment?
I find that when I’m in this environment I always wish to prove my abilities and how capable I am to lift tools, pour the metal or run the furnace. Why is this? Therefore I question the process and the object; process art, the experiences of the foundry, it’s particular setting and environment. How can a environment engage with my own practice, primarily my thinking and concepts. What will I pursue next? What work will I produce? The foundry is a male environment, this is a fact; however I wish to explore how? Why? Is this tendency changing? What work are female sculptors producing? Does casting and the foundry have an impact on their practice? These questions are a point of contact at all times.