On an epithelial level, the scar is simply a mark, a regenerated piece of tissue, a healed lesion that conventionally follows the infliction of an incision or a burn, either intentional or not. Of this trace however, we almost instantly find that it does not suffice to regard it as a mere peculiarity of the dermis, as what is crucial to this fibrous section of tissue is the meta- cutaneous, its metonymic relationship to a particular event or action. This is the primary trait of any scar: that it signifies beyond the skin, beyond the biological palimpsest that it has produced. We are, at first, tempted to associate it with the traumatic, with the remnants of suffering that make of it a relic of pain, both physical and cognitive, an agonizing recollection of consumed passions and jagged embraces, flaming within our psyche and manifest with the illuminated perspex sculptures of Isaac Lythgoe. Yet, is it not a scar that also reminds one of birth, of being removed from the womb for, which our mothers bear a caesarean section or we, a snipping away of the umbilical cord? Can the postpartum depression alluded to by Srijon Chowdhury’s distracted mother-infant dyad not foreshadow a latter maternal joy, an expulsion of postnatal morbidity?
If we look past the mere a priori and posteriori of the scar we begin its exoneration, its acknowledgement as a mode of ‘becoming’ with aesthetic, religious, socio-cultural, and adaptive facets. The tattoo reaffirms this, for it not only physically exteriorises the intrinsic, symbolically branding the epidermis, but performs the function of ritual by subjecting one to the repeated injection of their beliefs. Such Maia Regis’ effaced protagonist, dog and pistol in hand, imparts further potency to its all too visceral surroundings via the snake emblem ascending their torso, the scar given agency. The kissing silicone sculptures of Casja von Zeipel too recall this piercing and tinting of the skin through selective transparencies and the emulation of a cracked reptilian dermis undergoing ecdysis (molting), further inscribing their hyper-visiblity by means of their hybridity. Synthetic and organic, their skin, double-layered or scaled, appears mechanically superior while still presenting the human characteristic of retaining traces, or bearing scars. This dualism, the recalling of an organic anterior, further prompt a focus on DNA, one expressed by Adriano Amaral in his employment of natural materials such as tree bark and spirulina alongside shapes of contemporary industry. The ramifications emerging from Amaral’s tubular structures delineate an ecological scarification inflicted upon flora and fauna rather than the human flesh, proposing the solution of prosthetics as a method of undoing any damage to the organic. A similar approach lies within Jean-Marie Appriou’s sculptures of marine creatures. Displaying a hereditary connection to their material makeup, for glass is made out of sand, such works however, conversely, emphasize their static adherence to the gallery wall rendering the objet d’art no different to a biological specimen. There is no question of hybridity as with Zeipel or Amaral, urging rather recognition through a confrontation with artifice.
John Miserendino’s variegated marbles too evidentiate their flesh-like striations in order to uncover a particularity akin to DNA. Each marble is modeled after, yet not sculpted to resemble a figure, breaking with a tradition of purity (white-ness) and the relative anonymity of material by accentuating surface lesions and vivid chromatic schemes. The notions of transmission and trace exist not only within such marbles, for through the work of Muriel Abadie an idea of recollection, of one's personal rather than cultural history surfaces with the sketch. Abadie seeks to access a realm of the familiar, to awaken in all of us a forgotten memory that can appear through the visual. Her urge is collective, remembrance as protection against temporal perdition. Within our efforts to heal, perhaps the same can be said for the cicatrice.
Words by Smaranda Ciubotaru