Projects, Thoughts, L’Hayyim

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I have started carving for a woodblock project. This is the first printmaking project that I have done post-graduate. I am actually rather excited about it. One of the things that I wanted to explore more while doing the sketchbook were looking at the body as architecture. In this, I am realizing that my childhood dreams of becoming an architect. The interesting thing about architecture is how it is a physical social construction and how it can show the social conventions and aesthetics of a society. As Mark George writes in his reflection of Parashat Terumah, “But geographers and sociologists argue that space is not a given; rather, it is something that societies produce and that, in turn, reproduces the social structures and hierarchies of those societies. Space is, in fact, social space, and how such space is created, organized, and given is determined by the people and societies that use it. Therefore, we need to read the Tabernacle as a reflection of Israel, which produced this space, as much as being concerned about God” (Torah Queeries 103).

Part of my project is about the representation of the fat body in our society and how it is almost a taboo to accept being fuller-bodied or to be attracted to such bodies. In our society, it seems more and more that the full-bodied person is representative of overconsumption in our society. We represent everything that repulsive and wrong with our society. This all goes back to a quote I found and posted months ago about fat politics. It is that our fat bodies have architectures already ascribed on us, determining what and who we are and whether we are beautiful or simply grotesque.

Part of the critique comes from much of queer art that I’ve seen in the past couple of years, specifically how the human body is depicted in such works. Many of these of queer works depicting bodies often portray normative bodies, the bodies that we are supposed to find attractive. What is frustrating most about these pieces is that I feel that they’re are simply telling what our consumer culture tells me all the time: these bodies are the ones we should find attractive. I do immensely respect these people greatly, as many of them are close friends of mine. I am sure many people don’t understand the frustrations and insecurities of being a fat person in a society that constantly depicts us as grotesque. So, my hope is that the next set of prints are a response to my frustrations.

Lastly, I am hoping to show the interplay with the Priestly sections of the Torah, dealing with the building of the Tabernacle, the construction of all the Temple objects, and priestly garments. My hope is to transform what are, for me, probably the most boring sections of the Torah into revealing both the utter beauty in these objects and show the utter beauty of the fat body. The Torah verses and are used in a most condemnatory fashion I want this work to show both something that is considered cursed and beautify it. I want to explore challenging my aesthetics and for me to think more critically about my body.

That’s about all I have now. I’ll probably think more about this as I start printing.

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