Stocking spiderwebs from 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.
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.
You can see more on Madeleine Berkhemer’s website.