If you’re like me you tend to process things in terms of sensation. You may also have a sense that things don’t feel “right” and haven’t for a long time. I can be overwhelming untangling it all. What happens when we delve into these moments of inundation? Consider that we all perform roles in a play of our own invention. It is at times like these that I like to think about our collective substance, the meat beneath identity, the being without order.
Often profound work comes out of confusion and fear: the questioning of what makes us human and the consideration of our animalistic nature. The idea that the senses can intertwine to create a visceral and visual sensation is a powerful tool of the arts. Berlinde De Bruyckere’s work explores these notions. Human traits are at one time both recognizable and not. One can experience pain, fear, beauty, peace and violence in her work, as well as the humanity present in its abject nature. For example, Behind Sadness can be read simply as a hanging splay of meat, devoid of color that allows the viewer to focus on the sculpture’s sheer weight and form. Upon closer inspection, this beastly creature might seem to be resting on human knees filling the viewer with an uncanny sensation: the sense of being faced with our own materiality. The meat is the guts, the guts are the senses. The artist helps us to see that which is unseen. This work does not represent a specific person, but instead an altered human form. It is a form without beginning or end, neither male, nor female; it has a suspended sensation that quotes the human form. The installation view of We are all Flesh is another example of Bruyckere’s desire to create tension between human likeness and an underlying primordial real.
“if you can categorize a sculpture or any work of art and attach a name to it, you suffocate it, you shut it off and rob it of its raison d’être. You need to be able to let a work go.” -Berline De Bruyckere
In an interview the artist gave with Hans Theys, De Bruyckere offers us a glimpse into her intentions for the work stating, “if you can categorize a sculpture or any work of art and attach a name to it, you suffocate it, you shut it off and rob it of its raison d’être. You need to be able to let a work go.” She creates visceral forms without stamping them with direct meaning or absolute identity. Defining the work would close it to discussion and stifle the viewing experience. The Ambiguity of form allows for infinite possible interpretations from the viewer.