To work with scissors is a sensitive and potent moment: scissors are a tool that can be used both for destruction and production. Scissors are an instrument shared by tailors, surgeons and hairdressers; those charged with the responsibility of the dressing, mending and upkeep of bodies. The process of cutting functions in fashion as in surgery: as a definitive, caring and careful exercise. It facilitates the opening-up and reinvention both of the body itself and the idea of an identity catalysed with and through clothing.
In A History Of Scissors – her first solo show in Germany and with Soy Capitán – British artist Paloma Proudfoot looks into the relationship between skin and clothing. Taking the ideas of novelist and science historian Daisy Hildyard as starting point, Proudfoot’s sculpture explores the idea that the body as a physical entity is transient and replaces itself continuously over one’s lifetime. One not only exists in a ‘first body’ in which day-to-day life is lived, but also in a ‘second body’ that plays out one’s more global and lasting footprint, a body that exists in the gases, shed skin and detritus we leave behind, where we become indecipherable as an individual. Through an installation of new sculptures, Proudfoot explores what it means to live through these varying perspectives and disparate bodies at once.
The exhibition presents an installation of new sculptures, many of which originate from casts taken from the bodies of Proudfoot’s closest girlfriends, those with whom she spent her formative years with and so built her own body image in relation to. Rebuilding and morphing these cast body sections in clay, Proudfoot not only dissolves the boundaries between her own body and those of her friends, but also between skin and dress. Rendered in clay; skin, cloth and hair become indivisible, a fusion of the natural and the manmade. Like tomb effigies, the pleats and weave of cloth are stuck in stasis whilst also appearing to be unravelling, neither dead or alive but frozen in a moment of decomposition. To reconstitute the body and dehumanise it in ceramics, Proudfoot generates a distance to the actual body and its evanescence, whilst maintaining a sense intimacy and vulnerability from the original casting sessions with her friends.
Some of Proudfoot’s sculptures appear gliding between times and scenarios, linking these subjective relationships with friends to references to dress history. In A History Of Scissors, Proudfoot focuses on Italian Futurist and Sixties-fashion design and ideology as two eras in which the semiotics of clothing was challenged and politicised, especially in relation to the dissolution of gender in clothing.
The works in the space produce an atmosphere reminiscent of a fashion atelier. The sculptures portray the body in moments of transit, both through its map – the clothes pattern – and the resulting garments they construct.
Paloma Proudfoot (*1992) lives and works in London.
Paloma Proudfoot: A History Of Scissors
Exhibition Dates: March 8 – April 20, 2019
Opening: Friday, 8th March, 6–9 pm