Installation view of the Five Goddesses, 7 ft. x 10 ft.
Traces, memories, desires, and longing. Lesley Bodzy's relics poetically gesture in all these directions at once. Deeply concerned with the cultural pressure that female bodies are subjected to on a daily basis, through her work, Bodzy critically addresses the ideologies that pervade the quests for unattainable beauty and perfection in American culture.
Engulfed in a troubling mythological dimension, a flock of disembodied ears (Hearsay) is overwhelmingly omnipresent. Gossips, sexist remarks, jokes—body shaming takes many forms, some blunt, other subliminal. All are equally hurtful. Ears are a one-way organ and once heard, the painful comment cannot be unheard. The ear instantly swallows it whole, leaving the mind to ruminate the enormity of its weightless burden.
The detrimental resonance of (title of ear work) pervades every single piece in this exhibition. Inexorably exposed like the relics of classical goddesses that once proudly adorned the pediment of a Greek temple, Bodzy's torsos question the enduring legacy of classical golden standard aesthetics that still today far too easily conflate ideas of beauty and youth.
Distorted, misaligned, and lacking natural harmony Bodzy's Goddesses I-V series – Aphrodite, Artemis, Athena, Hera, Demeter—are replete with formal and contextual references to the work of 1970s feminist works by artists like Niki de Saint Phalle, Lynda Benglis, and Marilyn Minter. Their original message is updated and amplified by Bodzy’s gestural approach and iconoclastic slant.
Hollow and thin, the skins appear as if flayed off bodies—the aftermath of a sacrificial ritual officiated by capitalist forces around which classical ideals are orchestrated by the media. Fragile, vulnerable, and translucent, they simultaneously unsettle and invite empathy. Which stories led them here? And will their stories be heard?
From this end of the exhibition, Hearsay now looks more akin to a promise of hope, rather than the perpetrator of pain. Abandoning the prescriptions of figurative representation to which preconceived ideas of beauty are anchored to, FOGO I-VI invites the viewer to construct their own standards of beauty beyond traditional bounds. These biomorphic, colorful shapes have been crafted out of slowly deflating balloons. As relics of a glorious and hopeful pasts once filled with youthful vigour and unabashed confidence, these deflated balloons conjure a kind of beauty that they can proudly own—each unique and irreparable.
‘Relics’ is a tale of loss and redemption. Together, the works gathered in this exhibition sketch out a narrative trail of personal and collective anxiety that can be overcome through a meditative and contemplative negotiation between reality and our desires. What will lead to fulfilment and what will instead inevitably dissolve leaving behind a sense of irremediable emptiness?