Saturday, January 26, 2008

V & A Part III

Naomi Filmer's piece, 'Ball Lenses" - i regret not getting a photo which shows all of this piece, which encloses casts of parts of the body in glass spheres. There were a couple more globes at the bottom containing bits of heel and toes.



In this piece, and in photos and video, she presents the ordinary for attention in a new way.



"The work I have made focuses on ordinary parts of the body that we never really celebrate, but actually there is nothing ordinary about them at all, they are unique to every individual. By isolating them, and making a spectacle out of them, they are made extraordinary." Naomi Filmer.




This piece really reminded me of the post I wrote about words, and about Suzette Elgin's book Native Tongue. In this book the power of language is explained like this:

"consider this, please: to make something 'appear' is called magic, is it not? Well ... when you look at another person, what do you see? Two arms, two legs, a face, an assortment of parts. Am I right? Now, there is a continuous surface of the body, a space that begins with the inside flesh of the fingers and continues over the palm of the hand and up the inner side of the arm to the bend of the elbow. Everyone has that surface; in fact, everyone has two of them.

I will name that the 'athad' of the person. Imagine the athad, please. See it clearly in your mind - perceive, here are my own two athads, the left one and the right one. And there are both of your athads, very nice ones.

Where there was no athad before, there will always be one now, because you will perceive the athad of every person you look at, as you perceive their nose and their hair. From now on. And I have made the athad appear ... now it exists.

Magic, you perceive, is not something mysterious, not something for witches and sorcerors ... magic is quite ordinary and simple. It is simply language.

And I look at you now, and I can say, as I could not say three minutes ago - 'What lovely athads you have, grandmother!' "

S. Elgin, Native Tongue, The Women's Press 1985, p.242.

I can't honestly claim that I have gone around noticing athads since I read this book, but I do think she is making a valid point about the naming and making visible of realities which have been unnoticed and invisible - and it casts another beguiling light for me on Filmer's work.

12 comments:

Reya Mellicker said...

Imagine vigorous applause from me. Wow!

I do celebrate the body as a whole, because that's what I do for a living. I know that sometimes while I'm working on a person's foot, something in their back (maybe) can suddenly release, or putting a hand near the kidneys can somehow help clear their sinuses.

People are not assembled from parts. LOVE this piece and the quote you included. Thank you!

d. chedwick bryant said...

Wow, this is really something!

Akelamalu said...

Now I like those! :)

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

words ARE magic making the inchoate take form
like the developer in the tank making the latent image
appear on the film

and the body is the film.

beautiful reminder, thank you for that.

tut-tut said...

yes, the fluidity of the body, of words . . . very nice to get me thinking about surface and interior, as well.

Ex-Shammickite said...

I am wondering what the body parts are made of, and how they are attached to the INSIDE of the glass spheres... sorry to be so Practical, but I love to know how things are made. It's a fabulous sculpture, I really like it.

Donna said...

Amazing and stunning exhibit and words :-)

dennis said...

Dennis has furry athads.

Queenie said...

Now being a bit thick, I thought I would goggle athads, top of the list was your post. Next was about arms and feminists, so what I will say is I love the work but I'm lost for words!!!!

lettuce said...

reya i was going to say its amazing, isn't it, that interconnectedness of the body - but probably we shouldn't be so amazed about it.

ched & lamalu - yes!

thats a really nice image, Lee.

tut, i'd not thought about it but this was a very fluid piece of work

haha shammie, i admit i gave it no thought!

i expect you have lovely athads donna.

and you too Dennis. mine are aching a bit from yoga class last night.

queenie! i must go and google athads!!

Sally Crawford from London said...

It is a beautiful evocation of what language is.

Sally Crawford from London said...

S. Elgin's evocation.

Occult, you know, simply means 'hidden': doctors use it, for example, to describe internal bleeding (bleeding you can't see).