DEFECTIVE: ABSENT BODIES
Conversations concerning the female body and sexual health in Malaysia are continually suppressed and discouraged as it defies the traditions and cultures that require these conversations to be limited to women’s private spheres. This information deficit surrounding the female body provoked me to challenge these boundaries set in place by exposing personal traumatic experiences regarding my own female body as a means to re-inhabit the social sphere with these absent bodies of women.
As a young woman growing up in Malaysia suffering from endometriosis, I was constantly masking the struggles I faced and felt restricted from reaching out about my condition due to the shame and taboos associated with menstruation. This severely painful disorder, effecting 1/10 Malaysian women, causes the tissue lining to grow on the outside of the uterus. The rogue endometrium tissue that becomes trapped in other parts of the body continue to thicken, grow and shed with each menstrual cycle causing scar tissue and organs to stick to one another. This disorder can also lead to infertility.
The mental and physical struggles I faced with the necessary medical intervention and my dysfunctional female body that opposed social order and sublime constructs forced me to question the relationship I had with my body. How do I love this defective monstrous body I inhabit when it causes me so much pain? This manifested itself into a collection of monstrous creatures, each armed with its own personal story inspired by my own.
The discomfort in the pieces lie within their materiality that mimic bodily aspects, where there is a repulsion yet empathy that comes with their uncanny familiarity, blurring the distinction between the self and other. The creatures play with our conflicting innate curiosity and repulsion towards the unknown and foreign. They invoke the feeling of disgust in the viewer which forces them to question the reasons behind their personal repulsion towards these bodily forms that rattle the social order.
The collection of grotesque sculptures resemble distorted, diseased and mutated parts of the human body that are kept hidden or deemed as aspects that threaten the purity associated with the female body such as excess hair, bodily functions, protruding bulges, infection, decay and orifices. They are a physical manifestation of the struggles I faced with this crippling condition and the horrific transformation that my body underwent during the medical intervention that was necessary to lead a normal life.
The sculptures resemble failed science experiments. They are monstrous outcasted foreign bodies that science failed to tame. They remain absent from social spheres due to their grotesque aesthetics and inability to carry out their obligations and functions that allow for them to safely exist within society.