Sculpture / Ceramics / 2022

The Chosen One

Title: The Chosen One, 2022
Sculpture: 75 (h) x 95 (w) x 50 (d) cm
Technique: Glazed ceramics

Mariken Wessels’ two new series of works, titled Mama and The Sculptor, continue the artist’s quest for the physicality of the body. The sculptures and collages touch upon the attractive power of peeping at other people’s bodies or images of their bodies. 

Since time immemorial the female body has been the subject of painting and sculpture. Famous prehistoric clay or stone figures, which are often referred to as Venus figurines, belong to the oldest known works of art and are usually interpreted as images symbolizing fertility. 

Wessels’ group of sculptures titled Mama connects this millennium-old tradition to present-day, pornography-informed erotic imagery. These sculptures—balancing between the sensual and the erotic—show breasts, sometimes morphing into a phallus and erogenous zones. The malleable material clay has been transformed into something hard and artificial. Wessels developed her own glaze to give the skin of the sculptures a satin-like feel. 

God created Adam (man) from dust and from Adam’s rib he created Eve (woman), as told in the book of Genesis in the beginning of the Bible. In our patriarchal traditions women are subordinate to men and have no real identity of their own. Men consider themselves to be creators and geniuses, whereas women should serve them or act as their muse. Many stories of art and creation make you believe this to be the truth, but women have most often been left out of the story. 

In the series The Sculptor Wessels pokes fun at the idea of the supreme male creator. The collages are based on photographs from 1970s porn magazines, from which Wessels cut out the female bodies and replaced them partly by clay (the primal material for human creation). Inspired by an essay by Jeanette Winterson, Wessels wondered why men can sometimes be carried away by their sexual instincts such that they even copulate with silicon dolls. Mama and The Sculptor turn received ideas about the male-female relationship on its head and poke fun at eroticism and sexuality in the age of algorithms.