Femke Agema and the silhouette of the body

In the previous post I discussed the idea of creating a body of work that explores the transformation of and space around the body in order to question the external perception of the human. After a tutorial on 12 February, I have become much clearer about my research question as we discussed the idea of not only exploring the transformation of the body, but specifically it’s shape and silhouette. Therefore I will be exploring how to create objects which re-define and distort the silhouette of the body, experimenting with materials, form and photography. This includes exploring the sensations associated with the disguise and transformation of the body and how often, it can impart a sense of uncertainty on the viewer as their perception of the human is challenged. This stems from a fascination with African masquerade as seen in the image below. I am not only interested in how masks and costume are used within this culture to cover the identity of the wearer as they succumb to power, ritual and dance but also the uncertainty I feel when viewing these objects as my perception of the human is challenged. I am keen to carry out ethnographic research into specific areas of African masquerade and view some of these objects in their actual state rather than just images from books.

Chokwe mask

Chokwe mask, 2010, Francois Delbee

Below are some recent drawings exploring the space around the body, inspired by my initial research into the work of Rebecca Horn as discussed in my previous post.  I am trying to question and re-define the silhouette of the body and it’s shape. In the previous unit, my drawing focussed on the exploration of material structure and objects. These new drawings explore form and object in the context body therefore they challenge my existing creative process. However I am keen to develop these drawings into material experiments in order to tangibly explore space and form, which will be the next stage of this process. I plan to do this by experimenting with creating shapes using silver or black wire mesh and attach them to the body using cable ties. As the unit evolves, I may attach smaller materials to the wire mesh and think more about the decoration and aesthetic. If I created the black forms seen in the first drawing and attached them to my arms, I am interested in experimenting with how the space and form changes from different angles and as I re-position my arms.


Exploration of space around the body, drawing on paper, 2015


Exploration of space around the body, drawing on paper, 2015

A particular reference to begin with alongside the work of Rebecca Horn is the work of Femke Agema whose work can be seen below. Her pieces combine fashion with art installation and re-define the silhouette of the body, masking the face and questioning our interpretation of the human. In response to the question of why she thinks fashion is or can be a powerful medium or communicator of ideas, Femke Agema responded by saying ‘because it is on a body you (as a viewer) can identify with it, and I guess for my work, and for me personally it works very well that the work moves because of the body in it, and in that way it transforms into a creature. And with the bold forms I use it can be very alienating, but in a playful way. There are quite clear ‘rules’ and expectations about clothing and to manipulate that image my work surprises the viewer’ (Agema. 2012). The key word I find interesting here is ‘alienating’, as it relates back to my idea about the sensations associated with viewing a distorted human shape. Also the reference to transforming the body into a ‘creature’ links to my idea of distorting and manipulating the silhouette of the body; the drawings above almost turn the body into some kind of unearthly being. On reflection I need to think about what kind of creature or ‘thing’ I am trying to transform the body into and why? Are there certain materials I can use to support this concept? This may be a concept that evolves throughout the unit as material experimentation progresses. The reference to Femke Agema’s work moving because of the body in it relates to my idea of experimenting with attaching shapes and forms to the body and seeing how they change when the body is in different positions or viewed from different angles.

Femke Agema

Hutten Parade, 2015, Femke Agema

Femke Agema 2

Hutten Parade, 2015, Femke Agema

This entry was published on February 17, 2015 at 12:10 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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