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Exo Womb

American Medium

July 12 - August 18, 2018

 

 

Exo Womb

Animatronic figure, resin, latex, plastic, mineral oil, rope, human hair, stainless steel

 

 

Chatelaine 2

Resin

2018

 

 

ChatelaineResinAmerican Medium  

Formally, the piece is cast resin, made from a relief we created with a combination of sculpted clay, ready-made objects, and 3D-printed figures. Each figure represents women (and to some degree, fertility) during different stages of history: Venus of Willendorf (the first figurative sculpture, made in 28,000 BCE, located in the Natural History Museum in Vienna), a medieval (14th century) alabaster Virgin and Child sculpture located in the British Museum, Henry Moore’s life-size Mother and Child sculpture, and a computer-generated avatar to be used for video games and animation. 3D printing allows us to make exact replicas of these works, but in a completely different scale and material (they are all 3 inches tall).

 

This impetus for this piece is the chatelaine, a piece of jewelry worn by wealthy “women of the house” in the 17th century. It was worn pinned to a skirt, and had chains attached to keys (that would unlock pantries, cupboards, rooms, safes, etc.), and other useful tools like thimbles and coin purses. Only one woman in a household would have the right to carry the chatelaine—the oldest married woman of the house. To emulate this power, younger girls would wear decorative versions with useless charms—not unlike how young girls now have play kitchens or toy purses to emulate their mothers. We’re interested in the chatelaine as a symbol of both status/power and burden/responsibility. Though it connoted enviable privilege, it was ultimately a tool for unpaid domestic labor.

 

Exo Womb

Animatronic figure, resin, latex, plastic, mineral oil, rope, human hair, stainless steel

American Medium

 

 

A women’s womb is also a great privilege and a heavy burden. Generally, we’re interested in how technology and medical science is changing the way we see, inhabit, and reproduce the human body, from a feminist perspective. This piece was inspired by a video we saw of an experiment involving an artificial womb that carried a lamb fetus to full term. The scientists behind the experiment are looking for a way to allow severely prematurely born babies to continue to develop outside of their mother’s body. But we’re excited by the idea that reproduction could (and will) be possible completely independently of the body, of women’s body’s specifically, and of sex. The practical implications of this kind of breakthrough are clear—it would allow infertile women, as well as male couples, to have children, as well as women who don’t want to use their own bodies for labor. But the larger implications are more complicated… While many consider pregnancy a gift, it also requires huge sacrifices on behalf of women’s bodies, their health, their careers, their domestic lives. How will reproductive technology change societal gender roles and expectations surrounding motherhood? Might (some) women see this as liberation from the burden of continuing the human race? Might these technologies also be adopted for unethical ends and how will the potential for “designer” babies direct a newly accelerated artificial evolution? As our bodies become increasingly inseparable from technology, how will the boundaries between “natural” and “artificial” become complicated?