The body, and in particular the dismembered body, is often explored from a fearful angle—fear of destruction, fear of the future, fear of redundancy—so it is fresh to see it here shown through joyful eyes, even when its parts are scattered across the room. Vanessa Safavi offers one such approach with three glazed porcelain, perfectly manicured fingers rising up from the ground. There are many violent connotations (severed fingers in a box; Jeff Goldblum’s cleanly sliced fingers falling into the snow in The Grand Budapest Hotel; a giant woman bursting, fingers-first, through the floor) but they’re also neat and light-hearted. No gore to see here.
Emma Hart’s bodies similarly appear as though they’re crawling through the wall with single arms reaching out to hold clipboards—again, fun, wobbly-edged and characteristically naive, but also looking a little flayed, glazed in a bloodied pink with a high shine finish. Two hanging mirrored forms, in place of eyes, reflect dreamy landscapes from the clipboards in front of them. Despite their comical nature we can help but find horrifying memories brought to the surface once again; namely, the hideous rituals of a murderous (though strangely sexy—just us?) Ralph Fiennes in Red Dragon.
Human forms emerge in other ways too. In Kasia Fudakowski’s Identititisch solemn faces can be seen in the markings of the wood. Faces turn animalistic in Hannah James’s pieces; a bag of cat litter is given a fierce personality with the addition of a peacock-emblazoned slumber mask in Head (Peacock).
Patrizio di Massimo’s drawings and paintings add a comically twee element to the show, with rounded, porcelain-skinned bodies lost in space—floating freely and sinking into black holes—or depicted as cherubs, glancing back at the viewer with an odd mix of coyness and blankness.
The show is enjoyably wierd and unnerving, a mix of innocent seeming works which manage to pull on some of the darker fears and projections of the individual viewer without explicit reference to violence or pain. Is everything really this twisted, or is it just us who’re a little unhinged?
‘An Ear, Severed, Listens’ is showing at ChertLüdde, Berlin until 8 April. All images courtesy the artists and ChertLüdde, Berlin.