( for Rita)
(Merino Wool, Kombucha Culture with Cochineal Dye)
Average size of each element about 3"x3"x3", on Table(dimensions variable); 2003
As these shapes emerged from underneath my hands my mother was gravely ill with a very vicious form of cancer. She was in Germany, while I have made my home in America for over 18 years now.
I wrapped small mushroom- like kombucha membrane forms with white merino wool and felted them, and in the process they lost their shape and their color bled into the wool around them. I then cut open the felt to remove the skin shapes to discard them. Most of the felt pieces turned inside out in that process, or were pulled toward one side or were distorted somehow, the negative shape now revealed as positive.
I couldn’t stop making these pieces. Every single one was so different, sweet and menacing at the same time. Life seems to affirm itself even in those forms that threaten and hurt us. It was as if I was channeling or somehow conjuring up the shape of her illness, the entities by which she was eaten alive on the inside. Only this time they would be the fuzzy “teddy-bear-version “ of cancer, appeased and turned into friends. Yet they have a strangely unsettling quality to them, so humorous and playful and at the same time evil, uncompromising: sensuous, even sexual creatures ridiculing and invading our bodies, wanting to grow.
These strange entities reside in the tension between the comfort and domesticity of wool and the gelatinous, oozing, visceral slimyness of a polymorph lifeform taking over from the inside.
I felt very uneasy making these. Yet I felt compelled to let them show me and lure me deeper into their darkness.
When she talked about her illness there was a certain lust, a wallowing in blood and pus that seemed to somehow bring her pleasure. As if her pain was the force that drove her, and suffering made her feel alive. Perhaps it was like comfort to her to at last- finally-have a visible, tangible reason for her unhappiness, that dark cloud that had cast a shadow over her entire life.
Is it possible that I can deflect this, that I can let those shapes evolve through my art work so they came into life without taking life?
Nöle Giulini 2004