COPENHAGEN—Artist Susanne Hangaard‘s first solo exhibition To Be Lost in an Object at Køppe Contemporary Objects (May 10 – June 17, 2017) investigates the relationship between object and body using the physicality of the ceramic medium.
Her work springs from her own experience and her own body in the world. She examines the body’s relationship with objects and explores her own body’s being in the world.
Featured image: Joy and Relic i, ii, iii, 2013, Glazed stoneware, concrete with gold leaf, H35 x W244 x D122 cm
At the center of the exhibition is her large porcelain doll, Joy, “a young girl at the threshold to puberty, puzzled by her own emerging sexuality, surrounded by shame balls and gold.” Joy is surrounded by shame balls arranged on dishes coated with gold lead. Each ball is the physical manifestation of shame. Opposite Joy, hang Hangaard’s porcelain Golden Shame balls along a yellow painted wall, but not before passing a long rectangular tile table of more pink and grey encased shame balls.
The ceramic shame balls…are encased in colored plaster corresponding to the plaster molds used for making the shame balls in the first place. This way the “plaster mold” becomes a part of the finished work and not just a medium to create another product. The plaster molds consist of a number of elements. Removing a single part you can look into the plaster mold and get a glimpse of the shame ball located inside.
As a woman, Hangaard’s work is visceral and direct, plunging into the feminine soul. Nearly universal concepts of feminine shame and guilt of how we perceive ourselves and how we perceive others wash over evoking a empathetic sense of sadness, mourning for our our fellow women.
The ceramic objects are either encased or gilt. The artist manipulates the malleable material of clay. Clay, which can be transmuted into anything: a porcelain doll or a brown shame ball or a precious golden necklace. What is real? What is surface, and does it cover up some thing dirty underneath? The uniform, the decorated shell that conceals the truth?
This is most directly seen in her video installation, ABSENTIA (pictured above). In the video, she lays on her back—exposed and vulnerable—as her body is given a coat of armour, a shield against the perception of self and others, she’s covered in a blue and white china motif.
From literary descriptions of how objects become physical symbols of human debasement to absurd clashes between classic porcelain decoration and the naked body. It is all a little too much, too big and very recognizable, very universal and very human.
The exhibition is a continuation of her investigation from her previous work The Trilogy (SHAME, GUILT, ANXIETY), which was inspired by the French philosopher and sociologist Edgar Morin and his thoughts about the concepts of shame, guilt and anxiety, shame on the tribal society, blame for the industrial community and fear of mass culture.
About the artist: Based on the material and conceptual thinking I examine art’s basic issues of culture and identity. My primary media is ceramics, but I engage regularly other media in my work, for example video. In this context it is essential to understand how important the diversity and cross-over activity is and has been for my creative development. In my video “Absentia “, which is about fluted porcelain, the body mimics ceramics. In the video “Trinity” the ceramics acts as a sort of “currency” of shame. In other words, I find it interesting to take ceramics to unexpected places.
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