Thursday, May 17, 2012

Claire Marsh, Spectres of a Broken Body

the first Solo exhibition by Adelaide artists Claire Marsh
18/5- 5/7 at Carclew House
Curated by Adele Sliuzas

Shelter, 2011, Furs, beeswax, fibreglass, thread

I first came across Claire's work at the end of last year, and I was really excited to meet her and learn more about her practice. She is a really interesting person and it is so great to work with her, both for this exhibition and another coming up at Format at the end of the year. You might recognise Claire's work from the AGSA Graduate Exhibition, her work was on the cover of the catalogue, and in the advertising. A small, furry/spikey creature huddled in the centre of a persian rug. She also showed at the Helpmann Academy grad show, and was included in the PICA exhibition Hatched. 

Untitled no.7,  2011, squid ink on velum, human hair, thread,

The exhibition features works on velum, as well as sculpture and video, and is open Monday to Friday during Carclew's office hours. We are also planning an "Up late at Carclew" for later next month, so that you can check out the exhibition, maybe see what artists in residence Andrew Humphries and Ruby Chew are up to, and have a drink or two at the beautiful Carclew House. Stay tuned for details. 

Check out Claire's Website for more information about her practice. 

Untitled 2,  2011, squid ink on vellum

This is the Catalogue Essay that I have written for the exhibition:

Claire Marsh’s practice explores the body; its force, its thresholds and its relation to the self and other bodies. Through processes of visual and physical mutations, Marsh talks about what she calls “the silent, the creaturely and the horror of the self.” 

Marsh’s drawings and sculptures discuss the body as a site of metamorphosis, a place of transformation between self and other. This transformation is a process, the body morphs into a creature, a transient being, half human, half other. The mixing of bodies is an abject act, a surreal and grotesque response – the self transforms to avoid its own being. Marsh describes her use of the form of animals as a metaphor for the broken body. She says “it is akin to being forced to live with a semi-domesticated animal; it is possible to live with it most of the time, sometimes you feel like you can control it, reason with it, even understand it, but at other times it will defy, hurt, hinder and embarrass you.” This statement brings to light Joseph Beuys’ 1974 experiment where he locked himself in a gallery with a wild coyote. The relation between the body and the animal instinctual yet volatile, we are the same, but different.

The grotesque and the gothic also play a role within Marsh’s practice. Hair springs forth from the silent, veiled by their own bodies, the plumes of Marsh’s own hair are lush yet monstrous. It is repulsive, but undeniably human, and so relatable to our own disgust with our bodies. Rendered with squid ink on velum, the series of drawings allude to the surface of the body. Skin is the flimsy physicality of the barrier between the inside of our bodies and the inside of other peoples bodies. The skins of the drawings are divided, they are not the body in full but are the body in pieces – split and doubled.

Marsh’s sculptural work Shelter follows the same lines of bodily incursion, exploring the skin as a container of the body. Shelter appears to be a safe place. It is furry, fleshy and warm looking. It is just big enough to fit through the opening and lie inside in foetal position, leg to chest. You can imagine that Shelter would have the movement of its own calm, deep breath, and that when you climb inside, filled with your body’s own anxiety, your breath would slow down to match the movement of the Shelters breath. Soon you would be calm, your anxiety would disappear and you would be safe inside this mutant body. The feeling is that Shelter is a humanoid being, living but not alive. 

All images courtesy of the Artist.

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