Infinite Island: Raquel Paiewonsky

Uploaded by BrooklynMuseum on 28.04.2010

All right, we're going to talk about this piece "Levitando", which actually is a piece
that was conceived about ten years ago. And, it's a rare case for me because usually I
do work on a piece, and I try to sort of figure out what I want to do with it and take it
to the end. But in this case I knew I wanted to do this work with the feet, and I did do
it in several different materials, in, I did it in gesso, I did it in sculpting the foot,
and I decided to do it in a cast. And none of the materials I used initially I liked.
So I had my, gesso feet, my stockings hanging next to them for ten years. And I, you know,
I left them there, but I knew that I wanted to do something further with them, until I
decided to use a silicon mold, and pour wax in it. That was amazing, wax is kind of really
incredible material. And it took a long time to sort of pour the wax on the mold. It took
a day for each pair of feet.
It turned out to be a really beautiful material, and very faithful to our skin, because I could
get all the skin tones, and I never knew which color was going to come out.
I had a lot of bees in my studio where I did the work. A lot of the dust, from the bees
and the- how do you call? The-
Not the pollen. Where they make their-
Yes, the hive is in the sole of the foot. So it seems like they were walking on their...,
and so I really like that. And I guess, I'm always interested in working with the body,
and the, popular media and the traditional history of art sort of, has preconceptions
about how to present the body. And there's always an association with a body part, and
I really don't want to do do that. Like, my challenge is to challenge that, to not do
I want to use a breast, for example, in my work, and not necessarily be talking about
sex. Or just use the body as a, as a medium for other things that are not necessarily
from the physical world. More like a channel for what is going through with us, our attitudes,
our emotions, the places where we store things from our experiences.
So fractioning the feet this way allowed me to sort of do what feet don't normally do.
Feet are supposed to be the support of our body, you know, where we stand, and in this
case the support is coming from a different source. So in a way this is... it's like a
levitation of faith, that somebody else is really supporting. The feet, supported by
an external source. And the source, which is the pantyhose... it's, usually clothing,
it's the frontier at the end of our body. And in this case that frontier, instead of
concealing our body, sort of becomes our body and it makes our body as noticeable as it
would have been.
Also, the gender. Breaking gender stereotypes is important for me, and in this case I'm
using stockings that are sets of clothing that is very feminine and associated with
women. And the feet are not feminine. So I like having this kind of a juxtaposition of
Getting back to this piece again, can you talk about the whole configuration of this
piece, as well as the... I don't know, are the shadows on the floor part of the piece?
Yes, very much so. I think the piece is very much about our individuality, but it's also
about our individuality within a community. So I think... I always thought of this piece
as an endless piece, like, it's really grown to take over the whole space. And I think
the shadows just add on, in terms of what I mentioned, making it more aggressive and
That idea of the individuality, and the individuality within a community, and the talons of the
shadow, they make me think right away about the bees and the wasps. Is that part of the
association as well, then?
I think there is a connection.
Can you talk a little bit about your... how you came up with the idea? Was it generated
from a personal experience?
I think for me most of my art comes from a personal experience within my social experience.
So I think it's a lot about the world, how we're living in, and I've said the word trust,
because I think now, one of the most important values in our world society is safety, safe,
and no longer trusting people. And I think that's really detrimental to everyone. So
I really like to sort of revive those basic human qualities, like trust, and being able
to be held, and to be OK when not doing what's expected.
I'm interested do you feel any connection to the feminist art movement of the 1970s,
or contemporary feminist art?
I did, I was sort of like a daughter, and it was really important to me at the beginning
of my work. I started out as a painter, and I did a lot of very feminist work at the time.
It was reclaiming body and sexuality, and that sort of really strengthened my work at
that time. But I feel that now, although that really nourished me, I'm moving more toward
talking about the body in general, as who we are altogether.