When researching the history of the Leipzig Spinnerei’s cotton production and the role of the women who worked in the mill, I was drawn to experimenting with woven fabrics. I made a series of 18 frottages of kitchen stoves (küchenherd) on wool, cotton and nylon. Each image appears as a 1:1 blueprint or diagram and corresponds to our corporeal expectations. As a collection, they resemble skins, eyes and breasts, and also appear as human bodies. Their rather rigid typology suggests a canon of allowable forms to which our bodies are forced to conform, as well as the labour of the female body – as domestic, ruled and sexual.
The installation extends the surrealist content in my work. In this piece, I use frottage – a surrealist and ‘automatic’ method of creating images – to make rubbings of many stoves’ textured surfaces using oil stick on fabric. We see human bodies as stoves, and stoves as human bodies through visual analogies between the cultural artefact, that is the stove, and the natural form of the female body. The stove, which is traditionally a site associated with female labour, here literally becomes embodied into a sort of psychological and material skin. As art theorist Hans Belting suggests, in pictures, the skin of the body and the skin of the image are connected as a triad of image, body and medium. To extend the idea of the embodied image, I am working on a series of robe-like dresses for a performance in which figures are dressed as I am in the images above. These actors will further animate the traditional dualism between soul and the labour of the body.