Visible Invisible - an exhibition with art and excitement

in NeedleWorkMonday11 months ago (edited)

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It's Friday and I am writing a #needleworkmonday post, wow, first time for me to plan ahead. But there is a reason, its because I want to give you the promised virtual tour through our last exhibition, and I fear this will be a long text I cannot write in one go on Monday.
(If you are here for the needlework than hop to the last paragraphs where I talk about my own work which includes sewing)

By the way, when do you write your text? On the same day or in advance of publishing?

Back to art and needlework, follow me along to HANDMADE IV

The last months were occupied by the preparation of a bi-annual exhibition (the HANDMADE) which showcases the recent projects of three artist: Silvia Szlapka, Silvia Müller and Simone Neumann-Salva (that’s me :-D). This year we had a wonderful mix of cubistic plastics, a room installation made from papier-mâché with wood and a room installation with paintings, garments, and more. And because we wanted to houner everybody we made press photos in front of all our artworks :-DDDD

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Silvia Müller – Verwurzelungsmetapher (rooting metaphor)

Silvia M. whole art develops around natural materials like paper, wood, or soil. Her artworks are mostly made from recycled goods like old paper bags, garden waste or even older artworks she destroys and mashes into pulp. Her papier-mâché housings are covers for dried vast and branched roots from all over the world. Roots which represent the ties every human has to the land, friends, and family, to memories and to beloved objects. Her housings visualise that our lives are connected to the world around us and that we are perhaps not as easily planted elsewhere as sometimes is believed.

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The painting in the background and with it the lighter smaller housings present a more recent way of connection. Fragile threads link them together, being a metaphor for social media, and our digital connections. It remains unclear if these connections will perhaps get stronger through the years or will easily fade away as they do not have roots in the material world.

Silvia Szlapka – Cubes and Characters

Silvia S.’s artistic exploration often starts with form and material and over the last year her artworks are centred around two dimensional rectangles evolving into the room. Starting with light and spring-like colored oil paintings which dissolve into tiny rectangular forms, leading to reliefs, developing into small character figures which still have the rectangular forms incorporated and lastly evolving into sculptures which are pure angular forms.

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But her exploration does not stop here as these objects started with fixed cubes and lead her on the way to work with kinetic objects. The newest cube sculpture has moveable parts and allows the observer to interact and to shape the sculpture herself by turning or tilting the individual cubes.

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All her artworks are connected by a recognisable color scheme which uses bright hues like yellow and green combined with light beige paint or natural wood.

And now on to my part of the exhibition which you already saw during the making :-D

Simone Neumann-Salva – Visible Invisible

As I in general work conceptual my installation needs a tad more explanation to make sense. The main topic of my work is still the visibility of women beyond “sexual usability”. It protests the cultural notion that age (especially in women) is less worth than youthfulness. Perhaps you also observed that older women are less visible in all forms of media, may it be in films or books in talk shows and not to speak of the fashion world… If older women are shown they are often reduced to stereotypical roles like the grandmother, the widow etc. They are seldom seen as individuals. For example (sorry now I will be rude) the ugly, hateful, old man can play the role of a lawyer who is the lead in a serial instead of playing the side character “an old man” who brings the plot along (as it would be shown when he was a woman). I know it’s not as black and white as I write this down here, but the tendency to reduce and objectify women is still a topic.

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And to remedy this I designed a kind of fighting uniform, to give women a dress for demonstrating or for showing ironically their displeasure with society’s norms. Dresses which can be read as super feminine (the girly innocent variation) made of fluffy fabric with gathered wide skirts (I already explained more of this idea here) but are secretly made to fight for women’s visibility as an individual not defined by her looks and age. These dresses have headpieces which on the one side hide the woman beneath it and on the other side refer to the nearly universal cultural idea that women’s hair after a certain age should be hidden (or cut short). I designed these headpieces so that they can be transformed into a sweater or a cowl and so wearing a headpiece is no longer a “must” for the woman but a possibility to change into a stealthy warrior. With these wide dresses and headpieces, one becomes visible invisible.


Behind the two dress models I arranged a bundle of hazel sticks… meant not completely serious – as a reminder of witch burnings.

On all paintings figures are shown which are dressed in these “stealth uniforms” and smaller scaled fibre sculptures in form of balaclavas with tulle are arranged in the room to pull everything together.

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All paintings broach the issue of women fighting for their worth as an individual, opening the possibility for other people (the observer) to join into their community. All paintings have a dream like surreal setting full of color and strange landscapes. One painting tells the observer to “repent the flour” meaning to shake oneself free of constant self optimisation, freeing one from the shackles of being “that girl” a forever young perfectly healthy and sanitised being who makes Pilates in the morning, walks exactly half an hour outside for optimum vitamin d production, who eats clean, free of sugar, wheat, or any other food adversary. That girl who follows a multiple step skin routine to never get wrinkles or pimples. That girl that fights against life’s messiness and wants to preserve the ever youthful slim and productive body.

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Another painting shows the exaggerated portrait of a grinning woman, the mouth overly wide and full of dark scary teeth. Above you can read “Smile, princess” reminding the (female) observer of times when parents or friends berated her to look more friendly, to smile, to please, to hide anger or her “resting bitch face”. But in this painting the woman uses her smile as an attack. No meek compliance but a huge mouth which could devour the world.
In the foreground you again can find the covered figures and further references to woman’s relentless work to optimise. The two unveiled figures are an allusion to a famous depiction of Jesus and Thomas the doubter. Here we find a man pointing/poking his finger into a wounded woman, showing that women still are hurt all over the world and that reducing the worth of older women harms not only the women but steals a huge amount of experience, beauty, and love from society in general. But still there is doubt, still people think “come on, its not so bad” while watching a talk show with all men over 50 and the one invited woman clearly younger and measured to completely different beauty standards. Still doubting.

The next artwork named humorously “the evolution of feminism” consists of a bench you can find in Catholic churches in Europe, a bench which is used to kneel on for praying. But instead of this I arranged painted pads on it. The hue starts with a deep blue turning into a vibrant red at the end. For this installation I referred to older tv ads for female hygiene products, where the presented women were always white, young, slim, healthy, and bleeding clear blue liquid… yeah… I don’t do this :-DDD I cannot remember when these ads changed (because of criticism) and instead of blue liquid a pink liquid was used. Wow, what a success for all women. To criticise that menstruation is up today seen as dirty and impure I built this artwork. As if the change of „blood“ color in pad ads would be the pinnacle of feminism while female products in general are more expensive than products that aim at men and especially hygiene items have higher taxes. I embroidered the title of this artwork on a panty liner alluding to the low value which is given to female work.

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Above this bench I arranged a series of photos. Photos which all show me while I take photos of myself. But instead of showing myself directly there is another distancing layer inserted as the alleged selfie is a photo of my shadow on a screen and therefore nor real selfie but made by a photographer.

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This serial self documentation is for me a symbol of how important visibility (in social media) is: I only exist if others see me. Visibility and attention being a currency which not only leads to wealth but also to power and influence. And although social media could be a way to change social standard about what is attention-worthy it also is an important determinant to strengthen dominant values about physical features. It forces people from young age to comply – if they want to be recognised, seen... – or to actively resist, which is very taxing.
Besides the „indirect“ selfies visualise how empty images can be, that there is no contact and reciprocity. We only see the shell of a person. We see a staged reality. We see our own thoughts mirrored.

You see I honoured my threat promise and wrote a post with roughly a million words :-DDD If you managed to read to the end, know: it was a lot of work for me too 😂😂😂😂

Thank you @crosheille for initiating and @marblely for hosting the #needleworkmonday and the community builder team @lauramica, @romeskie and @kattycrochet I am so glad to be part of. If you want to see more beautiful projects with yarn, fabric, and most of all needles, follow @needleworkmonday. Or even better grab your needles and keyboard and join the #needleworkmonday community.

Ohhh, if you don't have a hive account and want to comment then visit my Wordpressblog Bliss and Blisters and write me there.

Read more about my art und upcoming exhibitions on neumannsalva or buy some of my digital artworks on NFT showroom.

Last but not least: if my post coaxed a smile on your face you could support me with cocain coffee on Ko-fi



 11 months ago  

Wow, how many mixed feelings and a lot of work in all this exhibition. I like feminist activism and that every time the whole movement has more visibility. Women carry so many pressures since we were girls: that the body, that the hair, that the wrinkles, that the cellulite. All our lives they fill us with things to accomplish and then when we are older they ignore us hahaha. What a life.

And about menstruation, it's like that all over the world. Here it has already gone from the blue liquid to the red liquid directly. I'm glad they show things as they are.

Great job ❤️.

 11 months ago  

I am happy you liked the idea of the exhibition and I am also for feminist activism (here still people believe it means one hates men, instead of seeing feminism as something that wants to make the world better for everybody)
And with the advertising: I learned that in Germany there are no longer ads with liquid, they omit the "blood" completely now (I mostly watch netflix and so I am not up to date with advertisement in TV)

 11 months ago  

Ahh in all parts of the world they continue to believe that this is a war of men against women instead of investigating what feminism really is... bu sometimes there is nothing else to do with that kind of stubborn people.

the samples were beautiful, and very deep, in particular what you comment on your sample brings me to a book that I just finished, beautiful to die for, it is a book that I finished today in fact and it opened my mind a lot more about how we are seen women as merchandise, but more so with how far away we are from the places of attention when we are over 25, also the inequality that continues to exist in terms of our menstruation, the pain that the body goes through in those days is not even recognized, many times in my country it is said that we already have everything (clearly this comes from macho sectors) and there is still so much to build, but visualizing it is the beginning, I loved your sample, it is a beautiful and great job.

 11 months ago  

Thank you for your thoughtful comment and what a coincidence that you just now read a book about this topic. and about the menstruation... I am not sure if I should have laughed or cryed but we had a male visitor in the exhibition who asked if a woman uses the amount of sanitary pads I painted for the artwork in a year... 12 pads for a year of menstruation!!! And he was not joking, he honestly had no clue about menstruation. I was shocked.

wow, the comment is incredible, but if men have a great ignorance of menstruation, I sometimes answered doubts from my friends and they don't understand anything, but there is a whole culture of hiding what happens to our bodies, something that happens a lot With the covid vaccine, I received astrazeneca and my menstrual cycle was torture for many months, all the information about menstruation is hidden.

 11 months ago  

I have problems with my cycle too… and a friend told me there was a medical study about the corona vaccine and its effects on Menstruationen. Now I ma curious and will research. Hope your cycle will get back to normal soon <3

If the vaccine generated chaos in the cycle in many women, and I read small articles where scientists spoke that these factors had not been considered, a friend participated in a test vaccine and her changes in the cycle were not taken into account, the story always that should not happen anymore, but there is still much to fight for.

Thats really nice that I came across your article right now!! I was just recently starting to think of ways how to combine fashion or needlework with art, or how you could include fashion in an exibition (wich is usually not really the platform for fashion, as far as I have seen). So I found it very interesting in what ways you express yourself and how you combine all those different medias including fashion as objects and as idea!! I also like a lot the installation you made with the pads!! and crazy I didnt know that menstrual blood was shown clear blue in adds.. but I find it nice how you brought that to the point with the title "evolution of feminism"! it was very inspiring to read that post:) and I hope you had fun at the vernisage:) cheers

 11 months ago  

I am happy we meat here in the community as I love the things you sew!!! I like to use sewing, knitting or crochet in art, but have to admit, that especially knitting/corchet are so much more time intensive than for example painting or making a clay sculpture (and I am so impatient :-DDD)
Looking forward to your fashio/art combo <3

Tank you:)) Yes I am very glad we met here too:) I do feel you, I love the possible outcomes of knitting and crochet but it takes sooo long.. its something I only do in winter, or when I have a series to watch or long train rides and then I can knit or crochet at the same time..:) I guess its also kind of a choice between expressing emotions in the moment, like in painting or having this meditative process of work like in sewing. I am looking forward to the following exchange:)) until then have a great week!:)

Just incredible with a lot inspiration.

 11 months ago  

Thank you and cool you find it inspirational <3

How beautiful and fascinating what you have done, I really love it, at this time I personally am in my personal search in terms of fashion design, as I would like to implement other techniques and reach other spaces with my art, thanks for your love this inspires me to continue.

 11 months ago  

Yes please continue!!! I love to read about your experiments with art and fashion. I think @needleworkmonday is a perfect place to try out new things and to connect over them.

Super interesting. Women's roles in society have always been one of my subjects. Duh. I am a woman. :)
And aging and becoming invisible is for sure a topic of the day for me.
I find it interesting that you used the hood and cover as a power symbol for women. Especially, since many Muslim women are ridiculed and attacked for wearing their cover - something that is supposed to assure your equality by not making their beauty the reason for success.
Very interesting exhibit.
I am also fascinated by the roots from all over the world.
I hope you have many, many visitors!

 11 months ago (edited) 

Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your thoughts.
I also love the artwork of Silvia Müller with all the roots. They are so different, some with thorns, some thin and fragile, some very sturdy full of old moss. She collected them mostly in Spain, Italy and in Germany.
and with the topic of getting old as woman... I sometimes could hit people when I speak about this. So many do not recognise the problems with less visibility at all. Or that most medication is still tested on men or that women are held to different standards regarding appearance and age... or or or... they are so used to societies "norms" that they feel it’s the only possible reality. Argh... you see I can instantly ramble :-DD
And with the "veiling" clothes, I thought it was time to change the narrative. That women are allowed to be super flamboyantly and visible but could also decide themselves to not show their features and both should be respected.

Love all you said. We should do a podcast together on women, and women and aging and such...

 11 months ago  

This is a wonderful idea… only I cannot speak english properly (If you hear me talking you would either cry or laugh 😱)

Practice makes perfect lol - or we try in German. Even though it is my mother language, I have lived immersed in English for so long that I speak broken German now 🤪

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Wow looks interesting and beautiful thanks for sharing @neumannsalva

 11 months ago  

Thank you for supporting me and cool you liked the post.

Wow! I need "to digest" all this. wow how deep you took this topic! I especially liked your phrase: "I exist only if others see me". this is a very deep thought! and your description of "a successful young woman" is alas true. you have done an awesome job!

 11 months ago  

Thank you so much for your wonderful comment and it is always interesting to hear your thoughts, because they help me a lot to get everything into perspective. But to be honest I am also longing to write again about knitting for fun (I miss it!!! The exhibition was so much work, so that I hardly made some leisure knitting or sewing)

Ahhhh, I need to think about this.

So interesting, thank you for the detailed explanations and descriptions of the work of all of you. They are all fascinating.

I will come back when I have had time to reflect.

So lovely to see, though. I feel so proud of you 😍

 11 months ago  

Ahem... I am aware I may have written a lot of words in the post :-DDDD Again it would be so much nicer if we could beam an visit each other easily (and talk instead of write) I am happy you find the exhibition interesting <3
Right now I am lusting after some relaxing and selfish knitting or sewing instead of making something for an exhibition :-DDDD

a lot of words

The exact right amount of words 😍

It calls on so many ideas and thoughts, I need time to process them. I was intrigued by your answer above about violent fantasies ... me too 🤗. It would be good to beam ... can you arrange it? 😍

Selfish knitting is the best kind.

 11 months ago  

Hello @neumannsalva, this is a very interesting and deep article. I think your art work is so appropiated to reflect about our role in the society and it is a good reminder for the next Women's day.

 11 months ago  

Oh yes, Women's day!! I nearly forgot. Thank you for reminding me.
And so nice you liked the post (i know it is a bit long :-DDD) it is always encouraging to hear this.

Okay my favorite is totally the "smile" painting. Because yeah - one time I was even walking home having just left the dentist where I had had a tooth pulled! There was cotton and blood in my mouth! And this dude tells me to smile. I glared at him and said, "I JUST HAD A TOOTH PULLED" and he was like ...oh. 😂 I wish I had had enough blood in my mouth to just drool blood at him creepily, but it was all in the cotton. 🤣
Why are you on the ground next to the earth in Silvia's exhibit?

I wish I had enough blood in my mouth to just drool blood at him

Yes 😂.

And ... couldn't we make and make available some little capsules that you could hide in your mouth for those moments, and then you could just bite down gently on the capsule and start grinning. Have to be non-stain, though, otherwise, just too aggravating 😂.

I'm sure there must be costume props like that somewhere. 😂

 11 months ago (edited) 

I love it too, because I heard the "smile than you look so much nicer" phrase very often. And I guess I am one of the persons who look angry or very serious when I am not smiling (but am concentrated)... often people are surprised how "serious" I can be when I am not "private" where I really love to joke and be easy... you see still a topic for me 😜
But yours is even tougher. In such moments I wish I would live in a comic. I so could envision you, opening your mouth and leaking blood on him (only to make his smile bigger with force afterwards) And while writing this I notice how much violent fantasies I have… good I do art and am not in the police or other jobs with weapons 😱
And the photo with Silvia M.‘s artwork was a spontaneous thing. A friend of mine who loves to photograph visited a whole afternoon for an extensive photo session and I somehow thought it a good motive. Originally I wanted to convince Silvia to make the photo but she did not want to lay on the cold concrete floor, so I did it. We also made a film with the houses swinging… and one where everybody dressed with the balaclavas :-D

And while writing this I notice how much violent fantasies I have… good I do art

Me too! LOL. Smiting paper billionaires with the faeries is very therapeutic. 😁

The way women are treated more as a commodity than a person is quite sad. And then we play the part given in whatever society we grow up in. Maybe we come to realize that it's a facade, maybe not.

I turn 53 this month and I actually enjoy being invisible. I have had men tell me to smile when I was still in high school. It was always a strange thing to hear from an older man. Creepy really. I think the only thing I miss from my youth is the seemingly limitless energy. That was nice while it lasted.

Very thought provoking exhibit @neumannsalva. It takes a lot of time and forethought to put together a show like that. Bravo! Great work by all!

 11 months ago  

During the exhibition I heard so many stories of women who felt uncomfortable with society's ideals and demands (but to be honest I also spoke with some who could not follow my ideas at all which I found kind of bewildering. They told me things like that woman are per se the beautiful species and that this is "natural" gaaaaaag).
I am sorry you too encountered the "smile demand" and understand that you are ok with being invisible. I only think it should be a choice... or I try to voice it the other way round: the high value on beauty which leads to visibility in the first place is also wrong. Visibility should not relate to only physical features. In my view everyone should have the possibility to get attention if they want it. If not, this is also ok and the other side of the coin, when women are made "visible" because of the body (like not wearing a bra) is gruesome too.
Sorry I not only ramble, I am also unsure if my English is ok enough to not be kind of confusing 😱
Conclusion: love your comment and I am happy you liked the exhibition.

We are visual creatures. It would be hard for me to know if you wanted to be visible or not unless there were some exterior cues we could agree upon. We also are drawn in by things that are different in each culture. It’s thought provoking and a stimulating discussion. Thank you!