Bloody Bloody Boudoir Ladies: Turning Kitsch Ceramics Into Horror
Edinburgh-based artist Jessica Harrison transforms the collectible ceramic ladies that populate grandmothers’ china cabinets into spectacles of gore. These elegant abominations are now on view at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York as part of Body & Soul: New International Ceramics, the first of a series of exhibitions highlighting different materials to mark the museum’s fifth year at its Columbus Circle home. Body & Soul is centered on the human figure in contemporary ceramics, and as the exhibition text notes: “Through clay the figure becomes the catalyst for addressing the emotional impact of contemporary pressures that confront our society today.”
However, the found figures in Harrison’s work are mass-produced, the personal emotion of clay-work eschewed in favor of a machine process. Through Harrison’s alterations some of that emotion of the body returns, although in a very visceral way. And that’s meant quite literally: the collectible ladies cradle their spilled guts or present their extracted hearts while maintaining cheery visages.