Sculpture

SCULPTURE

The Chapel of Health

wood, garments, crochet objects, paintings, steel needles, paper

2021


Work in progress

First presentation of this art installtion will be in August 2021 at Gruppe 11


I (don't) care too much

Part of the Chapel of health will be the sculptures:

Layers of love

I (don't) care too much

Not alone

Artefakt 1

The skirt: I don’t care/too much/holes

There are big chunks of myself missing. I gave my heart away, part of my thigh and a bit of my soul.


This is the skirt with holes, the embodiment of “care work”. Unpaid (emotional) labour which is biting chunks out of women’s life’s and body’s all over the world. During pandemic times this became even more obvious as the centre of people’s life is suddenly more private, and governments pushes responsibility towards the family and so ultimately on the woman/mother. Nothing bad with the family being your centre of life… if you have chosen it.

Not so nice: a society which on the one hand implicitly expect of women to care for their elderly parents, to care for their children, to hold contact to friends, to be the social glue, the support system and on the other hand devalue exactly this kind of work. And this devaluation is not always easy to spot. It may be easy to notice that jobs done mostly by women, like preschool teacher, geriatric nurses, nurses in general, shop assistants and and and are payed less as a whole (not to speak of the gender pay gap). Less easy to spot is that many aspects of care work never register as work at all. In many relationships it is still deemed “normal”, kind of laws of nature “normal” that the female part goes shopping, cooks, educates or if the male part wants to help, the woman has to coordinate his help… and so she again is ultimately responsible for everybody’s wellbeing.

Incorporates a pattern from Simone Rocha


Read more about how this artwork came to life here


Performance

incorporates parts of the sculpture "Chapel of Health"

2021

 

This years international women’s day during a worldwide pandemic inspired me not to celebrate the successes of the collaborate effort of women which came before me,instead I have chosen to point out one part of (several) still existing injustices in women’s life: unpaid care work.
I found this important to point out – this is no scientific hypothesis only my subjective opinion – that I notice a kind of backlash which shifts more responsibility on women’s shoulders, but a responsibility without positive acknowledgement. Care work is heavily resting on women during this time of pandemic. So, I tried to create two garments which make this injustice and its costs for women visible.

 

The blouse: Tear me down or fly alone

This blouse represents the imbalance in opinions shown towards woman: too thin or too fat, too clever, or too stupid, too emotional, or too cold, too motherly, too businesslike – everything is up to critical evaluation. Everyone sports an opinion about behaviour and looks. And these opinions are tearing on me. They pull me in one direction and someday I may stumble (if I not unclothe myself from societies - or better sexism’s preconceptions about womanhood)
But there is also internal/ internalised imbalance. The too much of feeling and caring. The fear of letting loved ones down, the wish to please everybody, to give everyone a happy live, ease their sadness or hurt. The fear of being unjust or impolite, to be inattentive or even neglect others needs.

And on the other side the will to fight for my opinion, fight too much, too harsh without the desire to negotiate for winning. Presenting facts as if they are self explanatory, as if … This is the light side of imbalance. Nobody is there to hold me (down). This is the cold side, no (false) love keeping me warm.


It is molten Henrietta, run!

 

77 cm x 50 cm

Wood, brushes, acrylic paint, and freeform crochet

2018

 

Women are soft and pink and delicate. They are caring and nurturing. They are so emotional, connected to nature and life on the deepest level. They are fragile and need a defender. Their tiny hands can work small and intricate patterns of flowers and hate. Entangled in strings of beauty, and thinness and youth and stupidity and meekness. Holdings hands with other woman to stop them to rise and to revolt. Oh, so great is our task of emotional labour, but who pays for it? All the abuse and oppression are painted pink.

 

 

 

The context

 

For centuries needlework and fiber art are deemed as women’s work, but not in an appreciating manner but as in describing a lesser art: An occupation of idle rich woman who do not know how to kill their leisure time – a occupation for the fragile woman with slender white hands whose delicate nature does not allow her to participate fully in life. A beauty creating beauty. Needlework is seen as a craft instead of an art (and with this devaluing crafts). A work that can be done at home, where the fragile woman is hidden from the world. So many stereotypes connected with fabric, wool and needles. Up today I know men who would be ashamed to be seen in public while knitting or crocheting. They feel that these techniques rob them of masculinity.

 

Although these limiting ideas of femininity and art are slowly overturning with many great artist and writers who tackle this topic they are still present. The bevor mentioned stereotypical image of a woman doing needlework encases so many lines of discrimination (sexism, ageism, racism, ableism, and classism) it is frightening me. Therefore, my sculpture.

 

The explanation

The disrupted texture of crochet which sprawls unhindered like the unshaved hair on female legs. The pink turning neon and by this becoming visible and loud instead of soft and meek. The broken and worn brushes which show that art (or craft) is always work, persistence, force, and fight, independent of sex and gender of the artist. The wooden post with splinters which symbolises the many women (and naturally also men and people who define themselves in other ways) who already have fight for my many rights today.


 

I have built a sceptre to celebrate the freedom of choosing which role we follow. To show that female qualities are qualities which female defining people show. There are no set rules, we create them. Perhaps my work is also an umbrella which protects women from all the opposing demands of being a mother, a worker, a lover, a beauty, demands of staying at home or going out, of wearing heels but not too high… you get the point.


Peace is death

Clay Sculpture, Fiber Object, Poem on Paper

62 cm x 62 cm x 12 cm

2018

 

 

Peace is death, is standstill, is nothingness, is everything.

Peace is hurting, the loss is hurting, you are frightening me, everything is frightening me.

There is loss in every ancient stone, loss buried by the sea, by my pain, my sadness, life.

Someone is drowning right now

Someone is drowning right now

Peace is death, is the sea, the loss of pain, the loss of love, is death, is life.

 

 

I am living in a bubble…. My world is ok, I have water, food, a nice flat, a loving husband. Everything is ok. For me. It is hard to accept that there are people dying in the sea, drowning because we do not help them. Because they have no papers, or nobody thinks he is responsible for them, because someone believes they will be a burden, they could cost money! I am so outraged about this. Words are failing me…

Peace is dark, much death goes into achieving it and sometimes, it is nowhere near even after all the sacrifices made.

The Explanation 

I started with the idea of an ancient death mask. A mask which usually was made of beeswax, and because of this material is seldom conserved. But visualizing death and stillness was not enough for me. I wanted to lend the sculptures an ambiguity, to illustrate that in death something is lost for everybody. That death is happening with pain and will bring pain – therefore the nails – that with this death a whole person is lost: The love, the ideas, the shared moments, everything.

 

I used the knitted fabric and the yarn as a symbol for a life. I borrowed this concept from Norse, Greece and Roman mythology, were you can find the concept of three norns or moirai who represent and determine the destiny of humans. These goddesses are often pictured as spinning, weaving and cutting fabric, while the yarn may symbolise the personal life and the fabric the tapestry of events which occur throughout a lifetime or even in the world. Besides making knots, and with this I thought also knitting, was deemed a technique to work magic.

 

The nails I inserted not only to show individual pain and suffering, they also reminded me of the Christian crown of thorns, which can be interpreted as a taking a burden for others: someone drowning, suffering for me….

The second mask I worked more roughly, with bigger and perhaps brutish features. The bulking eyes and gaping mouth hint to stylized Romanesque architectural sculptures. Grotesque faces which showed the observer the godless, tainted, the deviant way of life. A mask that combines everything that “average” people despise and are afraid of. A mask which could be observed from far away in the secure surrounding of a church. This second mask illustrates that suffering, pain, and death is native in all times. Otherness arouses fear - may it be the “devil ridden”, the ill or the foreigner.

 

So, we have not only the hard and unmoving death masks with their iron nails, we also have the soft pink fabric, as a symbol of life, a symbol of our interconnectedness. The One death will hurt us all. The knitted fabric I used as a representation of the individual lifetime; a life started with a neat ribbing. A fabric which step by step loses its connection, which has wholes, and rips, and unravels as its nearing its end. But on this sadness, something new (flowery) is already growing, hope for other lives to be saved or opinions changed.

The old gods are dead

The context

One of my exam subjects at university was the cult in classical Greece. I was drawn towards the changes of ways to believe: The supplementation of a state cult which based on the strict performance of rites by a personalised cult in which the individual searched for bliss. Karl Japsers idea of the Achsenzeit (Axial Age) which is meanwhile outdated, nevertheless fascinated me. The idea that there was a global development of a new way of thinking which also emerged in new ways of spirituality. A spirituality which was person-centred in its attempt to find the divinity in oneself. The heavy symbolism which was part of the sacred mysteries, the secrecy and the ideas of death and immortality sparked my imagination.


The sculpture reminds to a roman death mask. In this mask I wanted to combine the idea of a lost culture, of the important role death (and its overcoming) played in the sacred mysteries, and the image of a sleeping (Greco-Roman) god.

Who knows… if we perhaps ask Gaiman, the gods will awake, if we only believe enough.

Clay

21 x 12 x 7 cm

2018

 

No longer their names are invoked: Nobody asks Juno to save their marriage, nobody chants the holy words to Ceres to let the gardens bloom, nobody thinks of Epona while standing in front a wild horse. Still the believer wants to have… to have health, wealth, love, and luck. The gods are still hold accountable for a contract which is thousands of years old. But who is paying the praise today, when no sacrifice is made and the mola salsa never touches the head of an oxen? The do ut des is forgotten, as are the proper rites.

If you have read Neil Gaimans you have it backwards. The gods created by believe. Mankind as the creator of its own gods. Mankind with the power to let the gods sleep forever. Mankind bound to hold the wake of its own creatures. And to fall into despair while observing the nothingness of a godless void.

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Dr. Simone Neumann-Salva



Email:salvasimone@arcor.de

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