Those of you who follow my instagram, already know that in the recent week(s) I have been very busy working with papier maché. As usual I am working on several projects at the same time which are all in different states of completion.
For those of you who don’t use instagram, here’s a brief summary of what’s going on, paper sculpture wise:
The ambiguity of the title is deliberate: is this bird woman pushing off to leap into the air any minute? To fly or to flee? Or is it her children who have fled? This piece is the result of my ongoing work surrounding pregnancy, miscarriage, and perception of women and their bodies in public and prescription of norms by the public, especially in the context of procreation.
Before I go on to tell you how I interprete my own work, I want to stress that I strongly believe in the right of the viewer to interprete a piece in their own mind. I can well imagine that for some of you it means something different than for me. And to me, this different interpretation is just as valid, if not more so, than my own explanation. To me this t is ultimately the strong(est) point of visual art: The fact that it invites personal experiences and approaches, that it is not as precise in the meaning it can take as a scientific treatise.
That being said, I want to spend a few words on what went on in my mind while making it: For me “Flight” is about the freedom of a woman to stay herself even in the context of pregnancy, whether failed or successful; about the right to feel about it in whatever way she does, and stay in control over how to deal with the outcome. When I started, I set out to create a sculpture about miscarriage and IVF. I first placed leftover syringes, shredded prescription leaflets, and empty medicine bottles on the bottom of the piece. While finishing, however, I realised that this was too much, and I took them away. Because I like the possibility of a wider interpretation: It doesn’t have to be about IVF, my message applies everywhere. Nevertheless, the trials of women who only – if at all – get pregnant after several rounds of IVF were at the forefront of my mind when I started to create this. The blackness inside the eggs, the image of a beginning pregnancy, the gold on the nests which nevertheless seem tattered and abandoned stand for unsuccessful attempts. In this trail of thought, it is life, offspring, babies who are fleeting and fleeing here.
But look at where I placed the bird-woman: She is perching on top of it all. I could have put her between bars, imprisoned and surrounded by her nests, but I very deliberately didn’t. Whatever happened, however much it might shape and influence her, it doesn’t have to define her. It is her choice to stay or leap off, leave it all behind, and set off to something new. So she, too, might be fleeing, or maybe just flying away.
Untitled so far
I am currently making 10 such eggs with something that resembles an early pregnancy ultrasound scan inside. These are fairly large paper mache sculptures, about the size of an ostrich egg.
This work is still very much in progress; I intend to add sculptural elements to the eggs which will feature as a central element. This piece(s) draw on work on prints that I did a while back, where I used indirect printing with unbaked polymer clay to achieve a look of an ultrasound image. I printed computer processed images of the prints and put them inside these eggs. After added layer upon layer of paste and paper, the print itself became really faint, thought, and I painted over the image to enhance the contrast. But in theory these are still copies of those prints.
I am also working on an installation piece with several “talking heads”. I made two which were talking about human rights last year (see photos below), and I am going to make an even larger group for this one. The project is quite ambitious, and I am not entirely sure whether and how I’ll be able to pull this off. So I’ll rather not talk more about it. But the first heads are in the making, maybe you’ll see more of them in the weeks to come