Somatic Memories II

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Somatic Memories II, 2014

Solo exhibition: 'Primeval Relationship', The Ruskin, Oxford, United Kingdom, 2014

Acetate sheets and paint

50cm x 85cm

In his insightful book White Walls, Designer Dresses: The Fashioning of Modern Architecture, Mark Wigley argues that modern architecture has been shaped by the relationship between clothing (and, by the same token, the body) and the built environment. He maintains that development, in turn, led to the negation of ornamentation in architecture – a process that tended to be reflected in the design of many modern steel buildings in which the extensive use of paint replaced ornaments on the surface of the building.

The installation Somatic Memories II compares the skin of a human’s body and the skin/paint of a building. It also illustrates how limited the control is that architects exercise over the buildings they design; and how their efforts to rid them of all ornamentation are defeated by the aging process of the building materials. Just as skin shows signs of aging, facades erode and the texture of paint changes, thereby changing the face of a building. Somatic Memories II (#1, #2 and #3) are the backside of flakes of dried paint from a balcony railing, which are glued to acetate sheets. Their intricate and rather beautiful design is the result of corrosion, which most viewers will perceive as elements of ornamentation. The work is thus a reminder of the fact that the built environment surrounding us is not static and inert, but alive and ever-changing.