Sep 30, 2011

PROFILE | Silvia B.

Silvia B., Almost Perfect,
Skin colored leather on synthetic material, 
suture thread, wig and lashes, glass eyes, wooden sandals. 160 x 75 x 30 cm 2004.
After receiving the book Conversations on Sculpture, in the mail, I began to thumb through the pages and came across the work of Silvia B. Her eerie figures photograph as dolls, but when I converted their measurements I realized they are actually life-size. I have not personally made eye contact with one yet, but I can imagine their presence to be unnerving.

From the point of view the photo above has given us, it can be seen that the face as well as the body have proportional features that have a nuance of seams unswervingly and purposely running through the figure. The eyes of the figure are positioned in a fixed stare cocked to right. In a close up view of Almost Perfect, the realistic intensity of the figures eyes paired with the symmetrical detail of the suture thread can be clearly seen. Perfectionism is displayed for the viewer when approaching her work.

In an interview with Silvia B. she was asked about her meticulous nature when creating figures, she responded:
Well, I do want to entice people to come very close to the objects. Therefore, I try to make the sculptures as beautiful as possible. Once I have the viewer’s attention, the next level of sensation can be introduced—the disturbing sensation. The highly crafted aspect of the work keeps it from becoming a joke or a prop.

Silvia B. M. & J.
Mixed media on synthetic material, wig, dread tam, lashes, sleeveless sweater, 3-piece suit, hand wraps, parade gloves, chrome necklace, silver ring, hors riding boots, hockey shin guards, human hair wig, nylon-cap, ‘gold’ necklace and nipple piercing, leggings, shirt, 2-piece suit, horse riding gloves, leather golf brogues, Armani Jr. belt, horse riding whip, white platform, 70 x 150 x 150cm, 2009.

After my initial reaction to Silvia B’s work, I had to know if her motif varied. I began my research and eventually found her website. Much to my surprise her figures began to become more lifelike and their oddity factor crawled up my spine. 

The media choice alone in M. & J. adds a disturbing element to the piece. These are not material choices that are “made from”, but are life-size, off the rack clothing used to dress the figures. Reading through the materials list and the dimensions of the figures provides an extra notion of how doll like and unjustified Silvia B’s figures photograph. 

The figures are life-size and their placement speaks a reminiscent tone of Michelangelo's Pieta. The M. & J. title could be a reference to Mary and Jesus the figures modeled in Pieta, but also, what is assumed to be, the gesture of a male rested across the lap of a gentle female figure. There is also a parallel in the mournful sensation the viewer receives from both of these sculptures. In M. & J. the nun-like female figure is crying over the inactive male figure. The placement of her hand on his chest and the bowing of her head leads the viewer to believe she is praying over him.

Silvia B. Lord Rangda
Mixed media on synthetic material, wooden mask from Bali, synthetic hair, lashes, underwear, tuxedo shirt, bow-tie, leather motor jacket, rugby-shorts, legging, Armani knee stockings, leather belt, skate knee guards, martial arts toque, hors riding gloves, leather shoes, golf club, golf balls in silk stockings, taxidermied white rat, winner’s podium,115x100x101 cm, 2008.

Silvia B’s work touches on a play between good and evil, which can be seen in comparison in the piece above, Lord Rangda and the previous M.& J. From a tender scene of sorrow, to a distinctively ritualistic masked figure in a prideful pose. 

Lord Rangda’s mask comes from Bali, which is where my research followed. I found a Bali, Indonesia tourism website that explained the legend of Rangda. Rangda comes with many variations in the folklore but is consistently evil. The people of Bali believe in the universal balance of the good and the bad, and believe Rangda to be sacred creation that has fallen from the lord, meaning a respected wicked being. 

The body language of Lord Rangda reads as a vain stance, as though the figure knows it is feared and respected. The white rat crawling on Lord Rangda's leg is a sign of favorable success, as a white rat was considered to be an auspicious omen to the Romans. Lord Rangda's all-white clothing speaks to the balance of good and bad in the universe, and also has a play on the phrase “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

 As a result, i have found the work or Silvia B. to be interconnected work that provides a disturbing sensation that is well thought out compositionally. Overall the figures subtle gestures are pure to read in their unfilled environments. Silvia B's choice of materials and size are easy to relate to in the sense that u can make eye contact with the figures and analyze them as they make their impression. For now I can only imagine the sensation. 

Amanda Castanon

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