One of those exhibitions, that was not part of the official Cultural Olympiad, was 'Spare Parts'. It is curated by a young Australian lady, Priscilla, who had the idea for the project when she found a few of her own old prosthetic legs stored away in a cupboard. Held at the 'Rag Factory', off Brick Lane, 'Spare Parts' showcased prosthetic limbs turned into artworks by a wide range of artists. In addition, it' also showed futuristic-feeling prosthetic limbs that are made with cutting-edge technology - Priscilla admits having a bit of a crush on Paralympic 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius, who might have served as an inspiration for those exhibits. There are also a few photographs displayed of amputees with special, customized prosthetic limbs. One of the glamourous ladies depicted is London's very own performance artist, model and fashionista Viktoria Modesta, who starred in the Paralympic Closing Ceremony.
The exhibition showcases that prosthetic limbs can be fun (a little girl proudly presents her artificial Barbie leg) and sexy - both the artists and the owners of the limbs have turned them into objects of desire. Upon seeing a diamond-encrusted hook, I am startled at how stunningly beautiful it is and my first reaction is 'I wish I had this!', before I can actually process the connotations of this thought.
'Spare Parts' definitely challenges preconceptions about artificial limbs and about beauty, in a similar way that Sue Austin's 'Creating the Speactacle!' creates a new dialogue and desirability around the wheelchair.
Unfortunately, 'Spare Parts' was only on during the Paralympics, but below are a few pictures of the exhibtion that Priscilla allowed me to take. Enjoy.
|Zoe and her flowery leg that is now replaced by a Barbie leg|
|Viktoria Modesta and her steam-punk leg|
|The naughty Vagina arm|