Body, Space & Technology (2006) BTSJournal, UK

"Sugar and Spiceā€¦"

Exhibition Review: Bones of the Skin Breadbox Gallery, Northbridge Western Australia July 1 -17, 2005.

Issue 1, Volume 6, 1 July 2006, Review(1).

Bones of the Skin was an impressive and critical examination of what little girls are made of. From the moment the viewer walked into the space, we too were forced to consider our own flesh, our own bodies and their functions on a physical, moral and theoretical level. The selection of works seemingly embraced and rejected ideas about physicality, sexuality and motherhood, representing bodily fluids, bodily functions, flows, shapes, colours, cycles and reproductions that we naturally (and culturally) recognise to be both repulsive and exquisite to the female. Australian artists Kirsten Hudson (WA), Michelle Siciliano (WA), Jo Pursey (NSW) and Boo Chappell (VIC) each installed candy-pink-flesh coloured artworks that led the visitor through the length of the gallery. Their installations functioned like organs inside a body reminiscent of the heart, the skin, and many of the digestive organs.

Falter, 2004 by Hudson consisted of stills from a private performance to camera. The artist's naked body was shown frame-by-frame, getting coated in hot-pink sugar crystals. The artist looks away to her reflected image from a hand-held mirror. The stills were presented chronologically in small wall-mounted light boxes that the viewer could illuminate manually. On one hand the body was portrayed as being beautified through a ritualised process of adornment however as more of the narrative is revealed the sugar-coating process appears to attack, infect, colonise and corrupt her perfectly controlled body. The transgression is seemingly double-edged and the image of the artists' body turns from passive victim to self-indulgent host. In the final few stills, as she is becoming completely consumed by the sweet coating; the artist looks to the camera and smiles. By this final poised gesture, Hudson presents herself as the queen bee: nearly completely coated and caked in sugariness: gazing back at the viewer to gloat with accusation at the audience for her narcissistic becoming.

Hudson's latest piece Lump: a self portrait, 2005 was similarly delicious but harder to swallow. The artist had constructed a 64.7 kg 'lump' of pink sugar. The 'lump' itself was petite - it didn't even come up to my knee - and yet it the pretty little work commanded a monumental presence. The 'lump' was exactly the same body weight as the artist. It was a compressed, moulded and syrupy version of her physical and psychological self. Hudson had left evidence that the 'lump' was once a solid, perfectly moulded form that had been deliberately removed from its supporting structure to lay alone, exposed and decaying in the doorway of the gallery. The crystalline structure lay venerably on the concrete floor slowly crumbling, fading and oozing syrup from its corners. The poetics and aesthetics of this piece were stated with clarity and sophistication...

Pell, S.J. (2006) "Sugar and Spice" Exhibition Review: Bones of the Skin Breadbox Gallery, Northbridge Western Australia July 1-17, 2005. Body, Space & Technology, 6(1).
Free to Download Full Text DOI: 10.16995/bst.179 BTSJournal Online, Brunel University
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