“It is pregnant death, a death that gives birth. There is nothing completed, nothing calm and stable in the bodies of these old hags. They combine a senile, decaying and deformed flesh with the flesh of new life, conceived but unformed… it is the epitome of incompleteness.”
Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World
I’m part of a group exhibition/art event in London this month, and this is the work which will be featured so I thought now would be as good a time as any to talk about it. I made this work in 2016, after reading the text above, which spoke about ‘laughing, senile, pregnant hag’ figurines. Originally, I expected this to be more in-your-face grotesque, but during the photography process I was listening to Nick Cave and got a bit emotional so it turned out quite differently than I expected. Not as funny. Interestingly this work accidentally combines both my fears, ageing and pregnancy.
The grotesque body is described as incomplete and forever changing, the pregnant hag is both growing and decaying, life and death in one body. It also encompasses two horror tropes, the naked decrepit old woman (see The Shining) and female biology (see all horror films with female monsters/antagonists)
I could talk far more about the portrayal of female biology because I wrote my dissertation on it 3 years ago, but I have forgotten a lot of it. If you believe Freud, it mostly boils down to castration anxiety…
Although this work required the most editing I have ever done, which was mostly finishing touches and adding extra detail, I was thoroughly covered in latex. I had to model and cast the breasts and stomach, as well as use nose putty and latex to create the aged skin/wrinkles.
This post has not been as informative as I meant it to be, sorry about that.
If you’re interested in the event which sounds amazing and is all about the grotesque and gender and magic, here’s a link to the events page: