Stocking spiderwebs from Madeleine Berkhemer

Virgin in Milk - Madeleine Berkhemer

Madeleine Berkhemer deals in erotic art. In one Q&A on her website she even says “Art that has no sexual connotation has no reason to exist.” I don’t have a particular interest in the more overtly erotic side of her work – mostly because although I think the aesthetics of porn is an interesting subject to explore, it’s not so often that I feel the same way about art dealing with the subject. Perhaps because they’re often very similar visually to the porn they seek to comment on.

However, I am intrigued by some of her fabric sculptures. They’re made from stockings stretched across spaces like spider webs. At various points you can find a bundle of rounded shapes like an insect’s egg sac. They remind me a lot of Louise Bourgeois and her obsession with spiders, eggs and fabric.

Virgin in Milk - Madeleine Berkhemer

The spider/woman pairing is an interesting one mostly because the spider is both generative (whether she is producing hundreds of eggs or spinning silk) and predatory. The result is these domesticity-meets-femme-fatale art spaces.

I remember  noticing how the web space can require a disruption of the normal flow of activity through the room. As such, despite being passive in that these things are static sculptures, they instantly force a change in behaviour.

The webs have also played host to pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes as a version of these stocking sculptures took over one of the shoe brand’s stores. I can see the sense of the partnership – heels and stockings are a perennial sexy combination, plus if you’re going to pick one erotically charged feminine garment to add to your work, you might as well make it the high heel. I dont like those pieces as much – I think it’s because I prefer the webs to be slightly more ambiguous as they spark more thoughts and more curiosity when the sexuality is less overt.

I don’t have a grand conclusion to make over all of this so I’ll just leave the collection of thoughts as they are. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts.

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You can see more on Madeleine Berkhemer’s website.