The project No Body is a continuation of Minna Palmqvist’s design project Intimately Social, which started as her master project at Konstfack College of Art, Craft and Design in 2007. The project builds around the designer’s experiments and thoughts around the body ideals we have been taught to strive for, in relation to the “unwanted body”.
With No Body Pt.1, Palmqvist have chosen to focus on the tool where the work in a sewing studio starts - the tailor bust. By changing the shape of one of a fashion designer’s most basic tools, she wants to shed a light upon the absurd in the perfect surface of the fashion world. In the long run this project aims to free herself from self-evident choices in her design process. In a series of workshops, with a starting point in the problematics around the body within the world of fashion, she has demolished, deformed and deconstructed the normative female torso.
Palmqvist is also looking back at some of her previous work in this project - Just as the video installation Intimately Social 5.10, the mannequin ”The Collapse” has been sculpted in butter, heated, and melted into a disorted and slouched shape. ”Out of Control” borrows its plump and amorphous shape from the balloon sculpture Intimately Social 4.09. Both ”Never Ending” and ”The Impossible” emerged from dissambling existing torsos and bodies. ”Never Ending” consists of twelve parts, from both male and female mannequins, where the pieces can be puzzled together into various combinations, without ever getting it ”right”. This can be read as our chase for perfection is useless, but also raises the question who has the right to define what is a female or a male body. ”The Impossible”, on the other hand, is a combination of two highly raised ideals of the female body; the skinny body of a catwalk model, and the more curvasious but still slim hourglass shape.
The combination of the two can be read as a comment on the impossible in treating the body as an object that can be re-shaped season by season, where women one month are told that a flat chest is in, and the next one be told to go for a full bust. The fifth torso ”Trying So Hard” is perhaps the most recognizable of all the shapes in this collection, with permanent marks from wearing too small underwear.
The tailor busts seen in the exhibition have been carried out and realized in collaboration with sculptor Moa Edlund (previously Anderson), and upholsterers Mirjam Nurminiemi, Olivia Broman and Tora Olofsson.
Edlund, who graduated from Konstfack in 2014, has through communication in photos, sketches and e-mail discussions, with the most exquisite precision interpreted and sculpted the torsos in clay, following the material from Palmqvist’s workshops. It is a truly time consuming job that stands behind each torso’s foundation, where layers and layers of papiér maché have slowly built up the shapes. The craftmanship has then continued in the upholsterers’ studio, where each torso has been thoroughly dressed in a thin layer of polyester padding and cotton fabric, hand stitch by hand stitch. The wooden neck pieces are made by carpenter Johanna Metsalo.
The five torsos are by no means to be seen as a solution to any problem, but as a result from intuitive experiments sprung out of a frustration of the artist. The experiments are all carried out with a starting point in different problems surrounding our view on the female body as a changeable object, today and throughout history.
No Body is an ongoing project. Stay tuned for more to come.