Playdough in the Museum
play dough Atlas
The bravest, strongest and smartest women in the world are gathered in the museums of the world. For decades, centuries, they have been sitting, standing, or lying on display for viewing. Great artists have created them, their value is immeasurable, we approach them in awe and keep our distance. I visit them in these temples of high art and allow myself to be drawn in by their power.
I mold those in front of whom I have to stop because their charisma captivates me, whether muse, Madonna or maid, status, rank, name, millennium or artist. These plasticine portraits of the art icons are funny, colorful and a little rough, they are testimonies of my visit. The culmination of the work is a souvenir photo of the modeling clay with its original on site, as evidence, as a trophy, as a prize – an artificial selfie. I need help to create this, I lack hands and like my template, I also borrow this on site. I ask visitors to help me, to play with me, to stage things together.
The plasticine object is a first result, the transfer of a flat image into a three-dimensional plasticine form is in itself an absurd risk, but ideal for starting a conversation. I worked life, there is nothing artificial, the putty is colorfully familiar, imperfect, robust and likeable, you can’t break anything there. Helpfulness, joy of playing and curiosity open the door for the next step.
I work on site, in the museums in this high-security area. I switch roles. The museum becomes a workshop, a stage, the visitors become artists. Museum, painting, plasticine object, I and visitor become one in a series of planned coincidences. For a few minutes there is a WE, a common goal: WE want to stage hands, play dough and paintings in the best possible way for the farewell picture. There is communication, closeness, a common dance, even touch – usually unthinkable in a museum. Chance brings us together, WE become a sculpture, we offer the museum and the other visitors a spectacle, a dance that is short-lived, unique and fleeting. The result is a photo, an experience, a memory. For 5 minutes WE ourselves became a sculpture – for a short time a work of art – and, as it were, accomplices in a robbery.
The “selfie” documents that moment and because art is only meaningful when it’s seen, I’m posting it on Instagram #playdoughartproject. The selfie bears witness to these paradoxical chains and comical encounters, it goes out into the world with our souls and changes them.
Unlike the digital testimony, the putty woman remains with me as an analogue piece of loot, I now put the putty back in its box, shaped and animated, and leave the house.
In addition to the main avenues (kneading in museums worldwide), there are several side avenues that make the project a multifaceted and long-term enjoyment. A major goal is to compile this knead atlas together with her photos into a museum total, an exhibition. Like looking in the mirror that reflects the mirror, a never-ending depiction.
Colourful, soft, banal, actually a non-art material, but wonderful in its directness. The results charming, absurd and surprisingly delicate. The bold colors give strength. Kneaded while standing on site, played on by several hands, transported, that leaves traces, a few noses have to be reconstructed.
#playdoughartproject is analogue and digital. The conquest of the woman, to put her in play dough, is always an effort and an exciting risk. Will I be allowed to steal her magic, her soul? Does a damaging spell appear? What happens is that the women in the paintings are strangely brought to life by their little putty.
helping hands – Selfies
The dialogue with the visitors and the joint staging, helping hands with doughnuts in front of and with the original, is particularly appealing. Who can claim to have held the Venus de Milo in their hands? Thank you to everyone who has already played with me.
When there was no access to museums, I also used postcards as templates. A completely different experience, and exciting performance. The staging of the postcard, muse and helping hands in the park, for example, bring completely different perspectives.