During the recent performance of Sugar Plum at galerie Galerie in Wien during the week of the Vienna Contemporary Fair, I perceived a contradiction between my interpretation of the performance and the artist’s comments during our discussion so I asked her a few questions to hopefully clarify her intentions.
Bullet Shih: When we met, you mentioned that you do not like the way women are represented in contemporary photography. You also mentioned that you love the imagery of a woman’s ass cheeks on the oval form of the toilet bowl.
Sugar Plum: Within my re-paintings of the photographs in Taschen’s ‘Big Butt Book’ 2013 – I refer to the often used Images and sated Topic; the woman reduced as a sexual object, mostly in very schematic and stereotypic scenes.
I like to use and to work with picture-books and -catalogues. Sometimes I feel like a hunter when I ‘shoot’ (paint) my associations in the new picture. I select the pictures carefully – and when found, I destroy them by crushing my stamp on them. During this process the ‘old’ – the original picture disappears and the strange combines itself with the new. The collage benefits from combining things that sometimes doesn’t belong together… There are many questions appearing within the process of my ‘re-paintings’: what do I let disappear? Nothing? Everything? What parts of the photograph do I let stand? And when and where do I destroy my/the object/image?
I like pulling hidden things out and explore them to daylight – or to put them back together in a new order.
BS: In your paintings which often depict a woman’s ass on a toilet bowl in the act of pissing or shitting, do you intend for this imagery to be a protest to conventional depictions of the female form, or do you see this an ideal depiction of feminine beauty?
SP: During my period 2007-2009 ‘Frau am Klo’, ” woman on the toilette ” – I found, I discovered a new beauty within the dirt: the beauty of the feminine curve. The circle of the woman’s ass while sitting on the toilette, framed by the round toilette seat – these both round forms become a unit and i let them conflate with the circles of the toilette to become a sculpture. All paintings by this period ‘Frau am Klo’ are read to be a protest to the conventional imagery of woman but at the same time a play with these imageries.
BS: During your performance, you brought out a naked model wrapped in plastic like a piece of meat and put her on a toilet. You then proceeded to paint her naked body and cover her in plaster. Once again, did you intend to highlight her vulnerability as she sat naked in front of a room full gazing gallery visitors, or do you see yourself as creating the perfect living sculpture on a toilet bowl? Or is it a bit of both?
SP: I wanted to hide the nudity of the woman during my performance ‘Body – Painting & Materialaktion’ 2016 – I didn’t wanted the public to become too curious and greedy, also I wanted to protect my model and so I covered her in plastic. And, then when I opened her ‘dress’ (the plastic) and uncovered her – I painted a bra on her chest – briefs and garters on her body… I uncovered and covered her at the same time!
The white Kaolin made the body with the white fabric look like a sculpture on the toilette – a sculpture that has yet grown out of her old sheets – a sculpture that has become a human-being!
Sugar Plum Live Performance // Materialaktion // Frau am Klo galerie galerie GALERIE, WIEN 2016 September 23