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Beauty as a burden

19 Dec

Pectinidae is a moving sculpture that displays, through a shell dress, how beauty can be a determining factor for women.  Isabel Castro Jung’s artwork, made by a scallop shell structure, plays with the cultural beliefs and symbols that arise from the intense relationship between the masculine and the feminine. The sculpture shows the contradictory uses of any dress by a woman, as it can be worn to enhance her natural charms, as a symbol of a status or a group, or as a shield to protect her from the world.

Following the same line as Jana Sterbak’s meat dress (1987), rediscovered by Lady Gaga this year, Isabel Castro (1974) crosses the line between art and fashion, bringing her sculpture the possibility of being worn. Pectinidae is a sculpture wearable as a dress. It is made by more than 500 scallop shells sewed on a fabric net. The shells create an organic and articulated structure thanks to a handmade process that follows a uniform and repetitive patron. While Sterbak played with the concept of “vanitas”, Castro deals with beauty and how it can sometimes be considered an advantage and sometimes a burden, an obstacle, a hindrance, as it puts pressure on the expectations for a woman. In any case, she argues, beauty is a determining factor for a woman.

Pectinidae represents the symbols and the beliefs around masculinity and femininity. A woman dressed in this shell garment could be seen as a sea goddess, representing a beauty ideal, like a nude Botticelli Venus, offering herself to the world. However, this shell coat is also a scale skin, a shield that protects a woman from the exterior, from being the object of desire.

In the movements this Pectinidae dress allows to make, lies the mise en scène of Isabel Castro’s artwork.  As in any dress, wearing it implies to play a certain role that could become a burden. This feeling is represented by the difficulty of moving around with the shell dress on. It is heavy and the shells must be dragged slowly through the sand, being this load a real and a symbolic one.

The power of the seed

17 Nov

It’s difficult to believe that simple sunflower seeds can arouse contradictory feelings. But they do. The simplest the idea, the strongest the impact if there is a deep reason under it. Weiwei’s Sunflower seed installation at the Tate Gallery provokes, in the controversy of being made by real seed or by porcelain, a strange feeling to those walking over it.

Chinese artist Weiwei’s Sunflower seed installation at Tate Gallery, this last October didn’t pass unnoticed. If you approach the installation from the entrance, the view is of a beach-like carpet but then, if you walk over it and take a closer look, you realize that what is under your feet is not sand, but seeds. Moreover, once you overcome the horrible sensation of walking over food, Weiwei gives then another turn of the screw. The seeds are not real seeds but tiny pieces of hand-made porcelain, more than 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds. Tiny pieces that together made up a whole beach with uncountable sand grains. I don’t know if the sensation of walking over food was worse than realizing that I was stepping over the result of the work of so many people. I admit it. Weiwei knows how to give a punch in the weakest part of our Western consciousness and at the same time leave us flabbergasted with China proportions. His true art is how he aroused all these contradictory feelings with such simplicity. With simple materials such as sunflower seeds, porcelain and the labor of more than a thousand craftsmen.

Behind the top (El Puig)

28 Jul

There is always a high mountain to climb. Enormous, single, powerful… almost unreacheable. I try to foul my mind and see already “behind the top”. What wonderful view is waiting for me? With which new perspective I will see the world?

Red Pump

28 Jul

Red Pump, 2010. 60 x 55 cm. Acrylic on canvas.

If I had to define this picture, I will say that is a visual haiku. As for me it shares some of its characteristics. As A.C. Missias defines it a haiku is “a poetry marked by brevity, reality, nature/seasonality, a moment’s duration, and insight or intuition”.

It shares as well the most usual shape for haikus:

“This bell curve (See Highly Technical Figure I) can be seen as a distribution of haiku along an axis of, say, objective <——–> subjective, and most haiku will tend to group in the center. There are some poems that are far more subjective than the haiku norm, and others than the haiku norm, and others that are far more objective, but the bulk, the haiku most typical of the genre, can be expected to array themselves toward the middle of the curve.”

Haiku figure resembling a pump

For me, the picture Red Pump is a haiku in the way its meaning is structured and in its visual structure.