Wednesday, January 15, 2014

our body and our art

So another work of art that is questionably shocking. Artist Eliza Bennett embroidered into her hand. The resulting work is equally repulsive and beautifully evocative.  I have always had very mixed emotions about work that actually harms the artist from the violent acts of 70's performance art to the plastic surgery works of the 90's. I understand as artists we are commenting on our culture and sometimes go to great pains to do so- but when the metaphor and message leads to actual physical harm I am unsure. Conceptually I almost always appreciate the work but morally do not.

Eliza's work "a women's work is never done" really walks the line of this question-- if her hands are  calloused and her work is very careful she can almost do this work without harm. It really is less pain and "aggression" then a tattoo and what she says about the work is grounded in thoughtfulness:

I stitched into the top layer of skin using thread to create the appearance of an incredibly work worn hand. By using the technique of embroidery, traditionally employed to represent femininity and applying it to the expression of it’s opposite, I hope to challenge the pre-conceived notion that ‘women’s work’ is light and easy.

Eliza's other works show an incredibly skill and meticulousness as a sculptor and her work is intelligent and thought provoking. Definitely an artist to watch and see what she does next.

See more here. 

Found via here.



Ann Tilley said...

Eeek! I don't know if I can handle that!

Anonymous said...

just a big no to both the pieces I;'ve seen like this, you can dress it up in fancy words but its still self harming

do like the chair though

Ansie said...

I've seen it on other sites too, and I have to say, the shock value of it put me off at first, but now that I've seen some of her other work, I changed my mind somewhat. She comes across as an intelligent artist and her other work is beautiful.

On another note: I always find it interesting that female artists who usually do not work with fabric or textile, turn to embroidery and stitching when the want to express ideas about women/female issues - often oppression or other negative emotions. I don't regard textiles/fibre/embroidery or any other needlework as an exclusively female domain and I often wonder about it. Does it remind us of our mothers or of domesticity or ...

On the otherhand, artists who exclusively work with textiles often use it to express ideas that is not related to being female. There are many male artists who use textiles.
As far as I know this is the only medium that has a gender connotation.
Apologies if I'm a bit off topic here :-)

Anonymous said...

I thought you might find this interesting too..
wish i didnt have so much trouble to translate his page to see what he says about his work, but i guess the images should speak for themselves?

Joetta M. said...

hannah- I LOVE the link thank you so much for sharing I will totally be posting about that work.
Ansie - your comments are one I think about a lot myself and it may be cultural. In American history (and a fair amount of British) needlework and textiles was definitely a "woman"s work" and connected strongly to domesticity and so perhaps those artists have that stronger connection. But it in Italy it was a very serious trade mostly done by men so in contemporary italian artists there are quite a few men doing textiles. I never really thought about it in that context and now that I do find it quite interesting.
But I do think a fair amount of arts are gendered I knwo that most metal sculptors and stone carvers have do face gender issues if they are a women and in conceptual school programs males often have to face the aggressive and traditionally male techniques they are using. Abstract painters are always talking about masculinity and women have a hard time if they paint in a more aggressive way. So I think it exists in other mediums but perhaps a little more subvertly where as in textiles it is a huge part of the discussion