Matters of Life & Death

7th July - 25th Sept 2011


Working models in plasticine

Working models in plasticine
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Sophie Hanagarth

TRAP is what I call my wrought iron bracelets that resemble wolf traps, made of two iron arches with sharp, articulated claws that sometimes open and sometimes close.
They are jaws, dentures or mouths worn on the arm. They absorb us, eat us or suck us. By the mere act of putting on these bracelets, our hand is gobbled down, devoured, an extremity of the human body is captured. The trap becomes an iron chain, the piece of jewelry becomes a handcuff.

The pieces are also conceived as the onset of an awakening to sensuality. What interests me is the direct transformation of matter through various pressures and flexions. Hot iron loses its structure, it becomes an amorphous material. When hot, iron can be modeled like playdough, thus offering a repertoire of organic and supple lines.

From clay models to the wrought iron cast, the technique employed can be summed up as follows: How to transpose flabby coloured forms into hard, black iron jewelry?

IRONS is what I call my research on wrought iron. If chains are indeed fetters, the double meaning (in French «fers/irons» indicates both iron, the material per se and iron chains), leads us to reflect upon the very nature of jewelery. Weapons, chains, jewelry are all linked to the same myths and the same chtonien aspects, those of the ‘god-smiths’. From Vulcan and his anvil to chained Prometheus with his iron ring, wrought iron jewelry can be seen as a radical way of imagining ornaments, as pure, rough jewels.

Dominique Paquet writes:

Sophie Hanagarth unceasingly explores the paradoxes of the material. Fascinated by fleeting, unpredictable movements, she has elected to formed steel, the tacks, laminated metal strips tins, scalloped bottle caps, in order to create soft yet violent bodily adornments, undulating and uncertain. In turn breastplate, armour, shell or cage, her jewels extend and prolong the body, supernumerary organs designated to exhibit fertility, to protect or display the quiver of desire at the very spot of the most fragile and exposed parts of the body.
In this way, she brings to light the innermost secrets of the flesh or displays what is modestly hidden from view: the uterus or genitals thus unveiled reveal a new significance which makes them both magical and religious, comforting and sublime.

The bells, pompoms, tears or grenades sewn on to costumes in days gone by become votive offering, relics, gris-gris or sarcophagi, imprisoning parts of the body while simultaneously exhibiting them like a Blessed Sacrament. Having lost through the transmutation of metal their relationship with blemishes, blood and sperm, these ornaments prolong and deify the body, incongruous embellishments of a carnal envelope exhausted to the rank of glorious body. 

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