Vulmina (2005)

How can something be represented that is not there?

An intimate view

An intimate insight

Vulmina is a negative (concave) sculpture that deals with presence and absence. A shape is captured inside a massive block of plaster. At first glance it is only an empty socle, but the bean-shaped opening turns out to be the cast of the lower body of a woman. The body which was captured in the sculpture has escaped its prison and is present and absent at the same time: While the negative shape of the lower part of the body seems still graspable by the Hollow-Mask-Illusion, the upper part is absent on two counts. The body can only be completed by the imagination of the viewer. The unfamiliar perspective (or insight) of a female body is both eery and seductive. The void inside the block can be filled by the viewer's thoughts.

Vulmina is a representation of a dualistic world view, where presence and absence, convex and concave, male and female, positive and negative, virtuality and reality are conceived as opposites, as incompatible. But the lines are becoming blurry: In our digital world, the difference between absence and presence has become hard to tell: In a chat it is not clear whether it is just the computer that still running, or if a person is actually sitting in front of it. The person that is answering might be a stranger, or even a chatbot. Sex and gender seem to become non-relevant. On the other side, women are still underrepresented as subjects, while they are omnipresent as objects (pornography). The female genital, which has been hidden or omitted in art and culture from the ancient times until now, while the phallus was ubiquitous, can nowadays be found all over the internet. But what does it mean for female self-confidence?

The woman is not simply absent in Vulmina: Her most intimate body part is displayed, yet she is completely unusable as a sex object.

an empty socle

All pictures by René Staebler (2005).