(con tener) cuerpo, ongoing
(con tener) cuerpo is an ongoing research project in which Sarah considers the relationships between body and object, between mind and space. In Spanish, contener means 'to hold' or 'to contain' and con tener means 'to have'. The artist explores both having a body and the body as a container.
For this purpose, Sarah uses packaging materials made of plastic, paper or cardboard. These objects are made for one-time use to wrap or protect a product. From the moment the product is torn from its wrapper or removed from the box, the packaging material is unusable. At the same time, packaging, like a fruit net for a fruit, is a house, a safe enclosure just as the human body provides inner protection. The body is a surface, on which time settles like moss on a rock. As described by Jane Bennett in Vibrant Matter, objects are living entities and even have something to say. The use of everyday objects that humans interact with, both actively and passively, is the common thread that runs through Sarah's work. Depending on the project, the artist models, photographs or performs (with) the objects.
During the first phase of (con tener) cuerpo, which took place in the project space of Het Wilde Weten in Rotterdam, Sarah experimented with materials such as epoxy and plaster. She makes a translation between fruit nets as waste and as material. How do you create a space for the body made of packaging materials such as colourful fruit nets? How do you make the narrative part of an investigation shareable or audible to the viewer? Besides the fruit nets, Sarah used air-filled plastic bags in an attempt to visualise and make her bodily mass tangible. She hardened these soft, cloud-like forms with plaster, creating organic sculptures that appeared to fit around the artist's body in unplanned ways. Behind the shell-like shapes, Sarah was able to hide parts of her body. In video recordings, she recorded how she related her body to the plaster objects, as if she was playing a delayed version of hide-and-seek with them.
The objects act as active partners in the performative actions and help Sarah combat her fear of the body as a stand-alone tool. Their presence generates a sense of comfort and support for Sarah's body improvisations. She treats them as a "second skin", aiming to free her body from (in)visible discomfort that she makes shareable with the viewer. In this way, the artist connects with her audience, inviting them to engage in conversation and to think beyond established rational patterns. For instance, the artist made a suit for herself out of thick, green bubble wrap in which she could move like a caterpillar. The result is an abstract image in which the contours of her wrapped body can be seen. Despite the discomfort of movement and the oppressive sound of plastic on skin, the artist felt free in and with the material she has long been exploring. Although a shell is hard and immobile, a husk like this gives protection and has the ability to change and grow. Because of the wrapping's embrace, Sarah did not feel alone. She consciously chooses to depict discomfort so that it becomes less uncomfortable to look at or act from it. From this representation of vulnerability, intimate, unexpected conversations unfold between the artist and the viewer.

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Financially supported by Stichting Stokroos and Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds, in collaboration with Het Wilde Weten.

© Liza Wolters
© Liza Wolters
© Liza Wolters
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