My first inspiration for this project is Robert Rauschenberg and his installation Monogram of 1955-1959. The piece itself will not influence my final sculpture in any way, but the way in which he engaged his work will. In his interview with the Museum of Modern Art, Rauschenberg remarks on how he engages in a certain form of dialogue with his piece while creating it. He performs a given action, observes what it does to the whole of the piece, and then, in response, he reinforces that by adding something that complements the previous change. If the first action does not fit into the aesthetic or the formal qualities of the work, Raushenberg pulls back and rethinks his actions. I admire how careful and observing Raushenberg is and would like to incorporate such practice into the creation of my own project.
My second inspiration is the work of Mario Merz and his piece Che Fare? which he made between 1968 and 1973. Merz’s piece can be put into a category of art called Arte Povera, which, translated into English, means “poor art.” This is a little misleading, because even though he uses everyday household items for his sculptures and installations, he also incorporates expensive neon lights. In fact, my art is going to be even more Arte Povera than Merz’s because I paid close to nothing for my materials.
Another inspiration of mine are the installations of Cathy Wilkes. She places mannequins in typical human poses and blurs the line between the mannequin being human and nonhuman. Her works made me feel different kinds of intense emotions. I admire how much of an emotional impact her pieces have on the viewer. Her 2012 installation Untitled depicts three mannequins doing tasks typically performed by humans. I am charmed by how Wilkes makes the mannequins look and feel animate by just arranging the mannequins’ postures. This is one of the goals I hope to achieve in the course of this project.
My last inspiration, Sarah Lucas, uses stockings to make fluid, dynamic, and captivating sculptures that represent the female form. I intend to merge my two main inspirations together — the way Sarah Lucas uses stockings to create humanlike sculptures and Cathy Wilkes’ ability to humanize the lifeless objects.
I want to create an installation drawing on all the inspirations listed above. I would use a mannequin’s head and stockings. I will use different types of stockings in order to create a torso for my mannequin. I will place metal wire inside of the stockings to make them malleable. This will allow the stockings to keep their shape after I mould them into my desired shape. I am contemplating using live plants and placing them inside of the mannequin’s head. My goal for this project is to make a piece that would force the viewer into empathy towards the lifeless representation of a human. This project is a strictly viewer-based installation. For it to be successful, I need the viewer to feel truly bad and feel the need to help the inanimate object. I will create different sketches of poses that would produce the greatest empathy in the viewer. I may conduct a poll that will show which pose is the most likely to evoke such feelings. This will be very challenging and interesting to do because the lifeless mannequin won’t feel any emotion, but his stance or appearance will impose some kind of negative emotions.