installation view (Campo Santo June 2017)
wood, purrfoam, porcelain, rope,
The Amazons. Mythological female warriors who were not much related to their motherly side, they raised female children exclusively as their warrior descendants. Their right breast was cut off, so that on their right side of the body they could be as strong as men.
The Guerilla girls, a contemporary feminist group devoted to fighting sexism and racism within the art world. To remain anonymous they don gorilla masks. So that their womanhood would be concealed, so that they could be ironically manly like gorillas, wild like men. Paleolithic and Neolithic Venus figurines. Exposing their curves and invoking fertility. Being the wombs of life. Of the continuation of life. There is nothing in them that resembles manhood.
Heading for the purple planet. The new series of anthropomorphic, mostly female or sexless sculptures by Annabelle Schatteman. The artist continues her sculptural work inspired by female iconography and keeps experimenting with the combinations of different materials, at the same time giving her work an unfinished note what makes her work sketchy like. She neither hesitates to give to materials symbolic meanings... So that she could tell her vision about human and female strength and fragility in details, the story about the masked and unprotected humanity. About the continuation of life.
When approaching these female figures, one can feel the counterpoint between their robust, stable legs which follow the tradition of ready- made (artist uses old chairs, wooden boards, easel, etc.), and the torsos sculpted in different materials like PUR foam, paper and porcelain. Owing mainly to PUR foam, but also to paper, the torsos seem organically exposed, almost wounded and decayed as sea fossils. The experimentation with the material like PUR foam results in the artificial material expanding visceral characteristics, in a way resembling the porosity of the previous series Paradise of Surrender when Schatteman placed nine female busts made of clay into the sea to see how the tide would affect the material... But, on the torsos of figures heading for the purple planet there is also the porcelain from which the artist shapes female chests and models the masks for their faces. The strong (but also fragile) material used for petrifying the chests can also be seen as some kind of “Amazon shield” if we remember the Blue Bra girl beaten by the military in Cairo in 2011...
The mask, also one of the recurrent elements in Schatteman’s work, is not expressive like the afore mentioned gorilla mask representing female rights, or the naturalistic masks-faces in the work of James Ensor, but it follows more the tradition of masks which have the absence of expression (Venetian masks). Are these creatures being themselves under the masks or is their identity expressed in everything but a mask – the robust legs and mostly fragile torsos...? Are they just standing there in the exhibition space helplessly, not even evoking fertility like
Venus figurines, but naively requesting the new, purple planet, an utopian society, where life will continue and where human beings will be able to take off their masks and shields. Not only masks which they wear themselves, but also the masks genetically inherited from their ancestors. Maybe that is the reason why these creatures could even be read as sexless, in a way as if they have been freed from gender, classification or a (family) tree, but still they have a strong urge to continue life by creating and choosing for the freedom... By being at the same time the Amazons, Venus figurines, mothers, artists but also men!
Neva Lukic writer & curator
installation (mixed media) with sound