Melting and Molding Soap

And for my next trick I will be molding soap into hands.

Working with bars of soap and hair has been fun but it was time to shake things up a bit. To go alongside my tights sculpture I have been making hands made out of soap. As well as seeing hair unattached from the body, seeing hands without a body is very grotesque and frightening. Soap covered in hair is disgusting but imagine soap shaped like hands covered in hair. This will add to my repulsive theme while still bringing in the human body aspect. To make the hand mold I first tried to cover a glove with Siligum mold paste but this failed as it wouldn’t stick to the rubber glove. I then realised I could cut out the middle man and pour the soap directly into the glove which would make life a lot easier.

I bought a normal bar of soap from Tesco, grated it so it would melt quicker, added water and let it boil.

Once melted, I poured the soap into a rubber glove and let it cool and solidify. This worked quite well apart from the thumb falling off as it became unattached during the cooling process in the glove. I am still very pleased with how it turned out as I didn’t really know what to expect.

I am currently trying this out again to see if I can keep the thumb attached but I have put this soap hand to good use and placed it amongst my tights to see how it will look. I am still unsure how I will display this sculpture so for now I will keep visiting hairdressers, stuffing more tights and molding more soap. The life of an art student!

Advertisements

Development – Feminist Art

After researching artists who work with the female form and the feminist movement I had a go at making some small sculptures of my own with this same theme.

This sculpture firstly came about because I dropped the candle and it snapped in half, so originally I was using the Plasticine to ‘glue’ it back together. But a gluey mess turned into a figure that then turned female. I added hair to the areas that humans naturally grow it, such as our underarms, legs and private parts. The figure is embracing her natural form, hairy and free just like her male counterparts.

Picture this; you’re staying in a hotel and go to use your bathroom. There is soap sitting out on the sink but on closer inspection.. hair! Small strands of hair stuck to the soap! Your mind imagines the dirty, hairy person that last used this and the area of the body they were washing. Disgusting is it not? So here we have a bar of soap that has sprouted a pair of legs. The legs are crossed in a feminine fashion and are of course, covered in hair. This piece relates to my previous post of the unfair expectation that woman must have silky, smooth, hair free legs and men can have natural bushy legs with no judgement. I have used the soap bar covered in hair to cause disgust, just as women’s hairy legs do in society.

The nipple, we all have them, men and woman. But somehow nipples in artwork seem to be more of a representation of woman, even though they are censored in our day to day lives. But a hairy nipple, well this is a male trait. How dare woman have hairy nipples, they must be smooth all over like a prepubescent child.

The vagina is not the prettiest of body parts. They are sometimes used in art to cause disgust but all naturally born woman have them. Hairy vaginas are normal, hair actually keeps the vagina cleaner and fights off STD’S. But of course in modern society this is not cared about, there must be no hair or there will be no sex. But there is a lot worse things to have down there than hair, how about cocktail sticks? How much do you care about the hair now that you could impale yourself?

 

I have been visiting hairdressers begging for the hair that they throw away and they have surprisingly complied without much speculation. I have stuffed the tights with hair, much like I did for my 2nd year tights project but with a different filling. I love that the hair pokes through the tights and sticks out like hairy legs. I added a candle, a feminine object but a phallic shape, which gives sexual connotations of penetration in a hairy opening. My next step is to play about with the tights and how I want to place them for my final sculpture. There will be lots more to come including molding soap and very hairy legs so stay tuned.

Inspiration – Feminist Art

After playing about with tights, hair, and researching artists who work with hair, I got an idea. The tights looked like hairy legs which is seen as disgusting, but only for woman? I started looking into artists who work with the female form to question inequality and stereotypes in society.

Mandana Moghaddam uses the same medium as I have to create a sculpture of the female body draped in hair. The long hair represents gender and the idea of what beauty is. According to ancient Arabic ideals, hair should be long, thick, and a rich raven colour which is quite a lot to ask of woman.  This is true of woman all round the world as rich glossy hair is a sign of health and fertility but the extreme length of the hair in this sculpture shows just how unrealistic these expectations are.

mandanamoghaddam-1

Chelgis I

Lara Schnitger creates female forms in a textile fashion highlighting specific areas of interest of the female body. These areas could be sagging breasts, long legs etc. Although unusual, these sculptures still represent the female body by including these key body parts that may be the only thing that men notice about female bodies. The form of Schnitgers sculpture has inspired me for my own sculpture to help make it appear more feminine to the viewer.

 

schn_ak_3792

Fun Bags

 

Sarah Lucas was a big influence on my 2nd year tights project and has cropped up again this semester. She also uses tights and sexualises them in a crude but beautiful way. Lucas deals with the male objectification of the female body and instead of portraying the female sculptures as beautiful, she pokes fun at the stereotypes of femininity.

So for now I am not only working with hair, tights and the Grotesque but also the idea of equality. As tights and legs are at the forefront of my sculpture I will be asking why it is disgusting for woman to have hairy legs when our male counterparts can look like Chewbacca and no one will take a second glance. Having hair on our legs is natural, more natural than taking a razor to them, so why is there such a stigma? I wish to highlight this point in my sculpture, to create something that causes the viewer to feel disgust but then to question this feeling as after all, its only fair that men and woman are treated the same, isn’t it? Free the leg hair!

Inspiration – The Grotesque

Much of my inspiration for this semester came from the same artists I looked at for my 2nd year tights project including Louise Bourgeois and Hans Bellmer. However, I also wanted to look at some historical examples of the Grotesque to see where it all started. And where it all started, or at least one of the earliest examples, is the work of Hieronymus Bosch. His pieces depict sin and the moral failures of humanity through weird, wonderful and sometimes disgusting illustrations. As he was active in the 15th century, much of the imaginative and obscure imagery were very obscure for his time. Bosch uses dark humour to portray human or human-like creatures that are comical but also makes the viewer feel uneasy.

Louise Bourgeois takes the human body and hangs it like meat. I love the fabric she uses which does not look like skin but you can still feel a fleshy presence. I plan to use the idea of hanging the body in my own sculpture.

louise b

Single II

Hans Bellmer mutilates the body to the point that it is still recognisable as human but is also alien. I hope with my sculpture to represent the body as Bellmer does so it is obvious it is human but is obscure and abnormal.

I was attracted to Eva Hesse’s work due to the material she uses. I again am using tights for this project but plan to stuff them with hair. I like that she plays about with weight and her sculptures still have very human and even sexual connotations.

eva-hesse-1362350695_b

Senda Nengudi

 

It was difficult, but I finally managed to find some artists who used hair in their work. I loved Robert Gober’s wax pieces of everyday objects that he has made repulsive by adding hair. He has now given the sculptures a human, living quality and this disgusts the viewer as people do not seem to like hair that is not attached to our bodies.

A second example of an artists who works with hair, as well as the Grotesque, is Jonathan Payne. He uses the idea of the uncanny to make sculptures that look familiar but also obscure. The sculptures are human and alien at the same time and are quite disturbing to look at because of this confusion.

 

All of the examples of the Grotesque I have looked at have one thing in common, they are representative of the human body. So long as we have bodies, we will experience body horror and this is why the Grotesque has been used in art from the 15th century and is still relevant today. The majority of things that ‘gross us out’ are tied to the fear of obtaining a virus or illness that would effect or change or own bodies. My aim is to create a sculpture that provokes repulsion using human hair, but I also want the viewer to question their disgust. We all have hair, it is no more alive when on our heads than it is when lying on the floor, so why are we so disgusted by it? Hair is actually pretty remarkable; its so strong that a whole head of hair can hold the weight of two elephants, and one strand can tell us about our family history due to the DNA it contains. I want the viewer to change their preconception of hair when they first see the sculpture to see that it is only human.

Playing with my Hair

When asked what ‘grosses’ us out the answers always have one thing in common, the fear of obtaining a virus or illness from that repulsive thing. After researching some artists who work with the Grotesque I discovered that what seems to repulse us most is when the sculptures represent human bodies.

When looking at the Grotesque I had to think about what provokes me to feel disgust. I made a list of actions, objects and creatures that turn my skin and one thing that stuck out to me was spiders and their webs. So with this I decided to make webs out of my own hair. Combining hair unattached from the body with spider webs increased the level of revulsion. I then inverted the images to mimic the colour of silk webs.

 

Next on my list was freezing hair. It didn’t quite work out how I wanted it to as the hair clumped up in one place rather than dispersing (I tried a few times with the same result) but I quite like what I was left with. When still encased in the balloon and with the tie of the balloon still attached, I believe the images look like a hairy human belly button. When the balloon is removed the clumped up hair suggests something almost sexual like female  pubic hair. These ice balls of hair may cause disgust just as pubic hair does. Many woman are expected to shave, however, shaving is more unnatural than being bald downstairs, so maybe freezing hair is just as unnatural as shaving it.

 

And then I got the Plasticine out. I was inspired by Johnathan Paynes’ ‘Fleshettes’ to create my own little monstrous creatures. I started with a bar of soap, because who isn’t repulsed by a bar of soap covered in (pubic?) hair. I then used pink Plasticine to fashion human-like features such as fingers and warts that sprout out of the soap. The balloon was added as an experimental measure that I believe will be more fitting as it deflates and resembles a nipple. But for now I am just playing about with making things that gross me and hopefully my audience out.

 

Candles are seen as a feminine object (a candle often makes an easy gift for a female for special occasions) despite their phallic shape. The pale pink of these candles represents human skin. When I sprinkled hair on the candles it stuck and reminded me of hairy legs. The candle emerging from a bush of hair has sexual connotations of a penis standing erect from its pubic hair.

 

Hair can be sexy, but only when attached to our head? These lustful, full lips have lost their appeal due to the hair stuck to them, a curse only too recognisable to a lipgloss wearing fool on a windy day.

I have been quite surprised, and overwhelmed, at how much I can do with hair. For now I will continue researching and experimenting with the Grotesque and will post more on how my work develops.

New Semester, New Project

… Well sort of. Those of you who have followed and read my post from the second semester of second year may recognise some of the techniques I will be using this semester.

I have decided to go back to what I know and what I enjoy and that is working with the idea of The Grotesque. In second year I made a “Tightzilla” sculpture made of tights stuffed with the fluff from inside pillows (see 2nd Year Projects – Tights Project) . This year I have chosen the medium of hair.

Hair is both beautiful and gross. It contains our DNA and one strand can hold the weight of an apple. When attached to our heads it can make us more attractive (apparently not on female legs or armpits though) but when unattached from our bodies, hair is seen us unhygienic and disgusting.  I will be concentrating on this feeling of disgust for this semester and will be taking many trips to the hairdressers to collect human hair.

Putting hair aside, I have been working with my own body to manipulate it monstrously.

IMG_8083

before (disgusting I know)

 

It’s funny what sellotape can do.

 

And tights.

And even string.

So long as we have bodies, we will experience body horror. I hope to make sculptures that promote the feeling of disgust through the use of hair. I will be posting more about my inspirations and development work throughout the next few months so stay tuned for a lot of weirdness.