Friday, September 10, 2010

[Theme] Of Body and Performance :

Post-Glass artists seem to be using their bodies to create works in which performative acts create intimate relationships with the physicality or metaphor of glass. This is yet another outcome of the interest to engage moments that vanish quickly in the self-containment of objects. Since video has the ability to capture such moments accurately, an intense questioning of the human body in relation to glass spills over to experiments of process in video as seen amongst artists who are part of The Post-Glass Video Festival 2010.

In The Only Thing You Can Count On Is Your Family, Andrew Salgado uses the metaphorical space of the mirror to reflect an image of the Other or monstrous. In a narrative that is very personal, and before our eyes, he transforms from what is socially and familially acceptable to what is not, what is questionable, alienated, disapproved and perhaps despised by some. By applying changes to his own body, the Other is revealed as but one of two sides of the same coin, the coin being the Self.

(de)composition: self-portrait is a meditative and profound consideration in which Arun Sharma observes the slow erosion of the human body into a haze of dust. Destruction of the substance of an earthen human form causes its surroundings, water in the box, to be full of the substance.The firmness rendered by the opacity of the medium means the absence of an object within it. Through a visual representation of the breakdown of the human form, Sharma's questions run deep : How does entropy occur in a human body? Does the invisibility mean that it is dying?

Andrea Oleniczak's Orange Tree shows the artist on a ladder, filling the arms of a tree with clear glass oranges that contain fresh orange juice. Her act leaves behind an image of the city with a fruitful tree, in contrast to the original cold, barren and colorless scenery. What is invisible to us in a traditional still life or landscape painting - breeze whistling through trees, leaves fluttering on the ground, human intervention in landscape - are made visible through her physical presence as we are witness to her process and hopeful gesture.

Alexandra Ben Abba uses fire from molten glass as her scissor, burning her hair to achieve the desired length and style in Glass Haircut. An awkward yet tantalizing choreography of what would otherwise be mundane and normal, Ben Abba ia an example of an interesting undercurrent to this theme : a significant number of artists, many featured on this blog since 2009, subject their bodies to "strange interactions" with glass... Other examples of this trend include: Solange Ledwith wraps her body, cloaked in wet newspaper, with hot glass strands. Maria del Carmen Montoya and Naomi Kaly experience glass powder as make-up on the face. Suzanne Peck attempts to swim with glass floats around her arms. Carrie McIlwain submerges herself in a bathtub filled with glass shards. Charlotte Potter tries to heal her glassblowing scars by licking them like an animal..... In all cases, the works that investigate the body in this realm of endurance or discomfort are made by women.

The question follows: why do women have the tendency to do weird things with hot glass and their body ? is it mere coincidence? Or is it because they are more aware and engaged in the politics of the body in contemporary society? Such work may also stem from counteraction to the mostly male-dominated glassblowing world. Traditionally, the demonstration of virtuoso and machismo (i.e making heavy and big objects or showing off technical expertise) marks hot glass-working. Is the work we are witnessing by women post-glass artists a divergent and reasonable way to explore the material while addressing the issues of body using hot glass through feminine acts?

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