Fragmented Figure Logo   Introduction        |        Artworks        |        Interviews        |        Bibliography

Account of the Scholarly Exhibition at the Centre of Ceramic Studies, Cardiff


Babette Martini Exhibited Works cont.

Note how the hand is almost worn as a glove in order to dip it into the plaster mix   With each application the definition of the hand becomes obscured by the plaster   The hands rest between submersions in order for the slip to dry a little before the next layer

The fragmentation as an inherent element of production can be further observed when the press moulded hand is repeatedly immersed into a plaster clay mix to make the glove. Scarry considers the glove as an artefact into which the original ‘natural’ hand is protected (Scarry, 1987, p254). Especially essential within the steelworks, the burnable natural hand is now protected and hidden within an ‘artefact-hand’ (sic) (Scarry, 1987, p254). But at the same time the hand becomes disembodied within the glove as its sentience is redesigned and altered in order to make it less vulnerable, and returning to the artistic process, with each layer of the plaster clay mix applied, the clay hand looses its definition and identity. After each dip the plaster covered hand is rested on some wire nails to avoid it sticking to the worktable. Each time the hand is positioned onto the nails which are covered with some clay ensuring that the form sits on top of the nails and does not slip down on them, some of the clay is deposited into the plaster layer. When removing the glove for another immersion, some of the covering is stripped off, waiting to be renewed in the following dip. When after the final covering and curing of the plaster mix the glove is detached from the nails, parts of the plaster covering are often stripped away where the outer layer is thin or deep penetrations and clay deposits within the thicker coating can be observed. The abrasions of the outer plaster coating expose the inner hand underneath. With the emergence of the interior form underneath the illusion of the protective function of the industrial glove is destroyed. Again the principal of making and unmaking manifests itself within the procedure of forming the glove through immersing the hand into the plaster mix and the precautions taken to preserve this coating. But while in the three previous case studies this dynamic was observed mainly within means purposefully employed for the creation of the form one can now detect this rule also within means which are involved more indirectly in the making, as demonstrated through the example of the nails. This however, signifies that the principal of making and unmaking presents itself not always in a direct line as portrayed by Scarry through the symbol of the vertical sword between God and man. Rather, one could assume that the undoing is inflicted by several factors or elements within the making. This appears to become particularly true when the process of making consists not only of just one method or stage but is divided as in my case in different stages or processes, therefore involving several elements. But while in industrial series production, according to Marx, each step prepares the next one, ensuring continuity and regularity, this rhythm appears to be partly broken within the making of the hand (Marx, 1974, vol. 1, p326). Consequently the hand carries into each new stage of the process or making the traces of the last one which are not solely signs of preparation but also signs of the undoing. The incomplete cast hand, or already fragmented hand, proves to be often less suitable for the repeated immersion into plaster than the more successful cast forms. The fragmentation exposes the inner structure of the hand to the plaster mix causing a weakness at that particular point and it is often there, where the hand will loose further parts of the finger. It becomes evident that an initial fragmentation is being extended into further stages of the process of making and that some parts of the hand become during the making undone. Therefore one could interpret the process or the making of the hand within the glove also as a ‘chain of undoing’.

The process of undoing is continued when the gloves are being fired in a kiln. The higher the temperature the more the plaster coating cracks and is stripped away. At 1240 Celsius the outer layer starts to melt and appears to fall away in small strips, leaving some parts of the inner hand completely bared. While the outer coating or the glove peels away, it often take with it parts of the exterior skin of the hand and thus revealing the structure underneath…

Artist Statement >



University of Wales Intitute, cardiff | Adorfa Prifysgol Cymru, Caerdydd