Text by Laila Majid
Surfaces and materials designed with ease of cleaning in mind simultaneously evoke processes of soiling and sanitisation. The tightly wrapped clingfilm exterior of a tattooing table allows for quick and easy disinfection; a glossy and non-porous PVC bedsheet plays host to carefree spillages and fluid exchange; a latex catsuit, peeled off the body after an evening of wear, washed with lukewarm water to remove residual stickiness and grease; the vinyl cover of a training bench in a public gym wiped down after a day soaked in sweat.
The materials in Wipe Clean follow suit: ergonomic chair seats reupholstered in silicone, the pleather-covered cushioned panels of an old massage chair replaced with latex, the smooth polyester cover of a bicycle seat speckled by lint, and a matte black vinyl floor marked by dusty footprints.
A seat is, by function, designed to be directly occupied by the body. The close relationship between body and object creates speculative potential – to see an unoccupied seat is to imagine the body that this object may hold, or the possible activities it may facilitate.
Reimagined in latex and silicone, these upholstered forms are imbued with a sensuality, hinting at bodily activities which may require subsequent cleaning. Their surfaces prompt imagined actions of physical exertion, raised heart rates, rushes of blood and perspiration.
The surfaces in Wipe Clean demand a close-up and lingering gaze. The act of looking becomes intimate, tactile, almost perverted. Our attention is drawn to minute wrinkles and crevices in silicone cast from ostrich pleather in saddle 01-03, the powdery creases of upholstered latex in will i have to watch you meander by?, and the rip in a bicycle seat which reveals its foam innards, as in bodyline 02. The transference of sensuality to the inanimate form opens up ‘a complete exteriority in which everything is surface, skin [and] fabric’ (Perniola, Sex Appeal of the Inorganic). These surfaces leave us wanting more, their respective cracks, holes and bulges occupied by a gaze that becomes curious, longing and voyeuristic in equal measure.
In will i have to watch you meander by? a hanging screen constructed from reeded acrylic obstructs sight. Part office, part bathroom, its fine ridges deny clarity of vision by playing tricks on the eye; the works it shields momentarily reduced to morphic images that are situated on the edges of recognisability, fluidly shifting in relation to one’s position in the space. Walking around the screen to its reverse side implicates the viewer within a secondary space of speculation. The works, when experienced together and in relation to the vinyl floor operate to form a specific environment; the edges between gym equipment and fetish furniture are blurred and dissipate to constitute a ‘deeply blended’ whole (Ian Monroe, On Collage).
The boundary created by the screen is porous, designed to be looked through and traversed. The space behind this structure feels at once private and wholly exposed, evoking activities of brazen exhibitionism as well as those that may take place behind the protection of closed doors.
Wipe Clean brings together a body of sculptural and print works in which desire finds form. Specific surfaces – vinyl, silicone, latex, acrylic – enable us to see in the space ‘things which are not’ (Giambattista Della Porta, Natural Magick), guiding us towards imagined actions of sensual potential.