Anyone else find this mildly disturbing?
Eliza Bennett stitches intricate embroidery into the top layer of her skin giving the impression of callouses and blisters and worn hard skin. Her website says it is only a mild discomfort. My first reaction was – is this not also known as self-harm? My considered reflection is – this is probably less painful than a tattoo (I don’t have one so I can’t say). It evidently doesn’t draw blood as this would damage the colours in the embroidery silk (gosh I hope she uses silk with its antibacterial properties).
I know I’m slow on the uptake, but this work is new to me. The artist was reviewed in designboom in 2013. The article elicited some scathing comments. I agree with the posters who at first felt repulsed and mildly disturbed at what initially appears to be the work of a disturbed individual. However, I was determined to stick with it and see what else arose. The ambiguity and confusion in my mind was made clear when I started thinking of other ways that we decorate our bodies: ie. tattooing, depilation, piercing, sun-tanning, scarrification- these all share in a quota of pain and some can be harmful to our health (skin damage by overt sun exposure). Is it because these are not held up to our attention as art? Yet, even here there are those who would argue for tattoo as art. Body piercing as an art form.
The artist suggests she is not making a feminist outcry but a shout about the value of people. However, the title of her work ‘A Woman’s Work is Never Done’ belies the children and men who suffer at the hands of exploitive industries and industrialists the world over. I feel she is working her way towards a concept, but at the moment she is caught in the mire of a mixed metaphor. This gives the impression of insubstantiality rather than a developing series.
I remain curious about how and in which direction her work will evolve…yet still feel somewhat disturbed at the process of its current embodiment.