BARBARA GRAF: "My work is based on the scientific dissection of the human body, a process that evokes "dissection"-or analysis-of the mind, and its effect on the human condition. This is my central concern in my garments, sculpture, drawings and photography. My sculptures emphasize the body as a mere empty shell: its interior is filled with emptiness. In several sculptures, the ribs become an actual cage, bars that define the internal void in a systematic manner. Themes shift: sometimes the garments seem to stress absence of the human form: the body leaves behind a shell. At the same time, it is the body's separate parts in relation to the whole that appears most important. Component parts fold into precise patterns and fit into special boxes or bags. Precise, acerbic written instructions and diagrams suggest a never-ending process of assembly and disassembly. A key feature of my work is the melding and interaction between extremely serious concepts, philosophical thinking and bitter irony. While the work is painful to view, I hope that the meticulousness and intended beauty of its forms draw the viewer in, allowing for an acute sense of my intellectual challenges while confronting highly abstract philosophical concepts. In my work, I seek to underscore the separation of consciousness from the materiality of the body. The relationship of human beings with their own bodies is ambivalent. My notion of the body as material "shell" and immaterial essence/identity helps to set in sharp relief the obstacle body can be in relation to important issues of human existence. I deploy contemporary art language to reaffirm the importance of human sensitivity and culture and the beauty of human existence."
Fig.: BARBARA GRAF Muscle Dress (Anatomical Garment VIII) Media: Cotton, 1999 16 pieces, variously sized. Assembled: life size (circa 180 cm. H) www.artwomen.org