Hannah Gartside | Fantasies
'Fantasies' is an ongoing suite of sculptural works that engage the materiality and embedded memories of found items, women's undergarments and sleepwear.
Saturday 20th July - Sunday 20th October 2019
10.00am - 4.00pm
Ararat Gallery TAMA
Hannah Gartside often works with items of vintage women’s clothing – particularly underwear and sleepwear – to explore female subjectivity.
‘Fantasies’ is an ongoing suite of sculptural works that engage the materiality and embedded memories of these found items to convey both the strangeness of ‘being’ in a body as well as a curiosity for, and delight in, new sensations.
The nightie is an object that has been eroticised through popular culture since the 1950s, but also attached to the Riot grrl feminist punk movement of the 1990s (seen in its appropriation by performers such as Courtney Love) and, as such, functions as both a symbol of female agency and a connection back in time.
Fantasies seems to be haunted by all these associations, as well as by the specific bodies that originally wore these nighties. The implicated body becomes a phantom, or ghost, contained in the fabric, however – like a ghost that arrives from the past and appears in the present – these works do not really belong in the past, and find their purpose in the present.
The Sleepover, a large-scale suspended sculpture, has more than 30 nightgowns and slip dresses that have been painstakingly shredded to the waist. Each strip has been threaded through a tiny hole in a panel of synthetic peach fabric. The shredded skirts create columns of colour which dissolve into one another. As the viewer walks through the sculpture, their face is caressed by lace hems.
The following poem was written for Fantasies
Silk submerges in a silver tub of tepid water
foamy with [gentle] liquid detergent –
after four minutes of light agitation
shaped by human contact,
now is the time for soaking examination –
why must a gown either creep or caress
& not slip into both – the way language
immeasurably clings even when whispered
or delicately cuts – as if authenticity
is assumed by a volume of expression –
yet sincerity [like wit] is often unseen
& unable to be ripped from the wearing –
no matter the differing material, the nylon
nightie soaking amongst the silk gowns
will also be shaped with a gaze – as [promised]
by its own company branding – rhapsody –