GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet: What are you working on?
Sandra De Clerck: I just completed a show in Bruges which is related to the female, her position in society, and the potential decline of women’s rights. The work in the show includes a life-size figure bust, it’s a veiled self portrait with enormous augmented breasts made out of incredibly seductive transparent pink glass. A stained-glass window with the silhouette of a kneeling female nude and an energy spiral made up of 80 glass breasts molded off of live models and cast in pate de verre.
GLASS: What have you seen recently that inspires you?
Sandra: I’ve recently been inspired and exhausted by a trip through Europe to acquire large chunks of glass for a glass carving workshop with Vladimir Kline being held at IKA Glass where I’m the department head. It required several hours of a surreal journey driving through Paris from Ghent to the factory. Inside were hundreds of kilos of enormous slabs of subtly hued glass. The overwhelming phenomenon of the raw material is awe inspiring, but the conceptual basis of my recent work is socio-political.
I live in Ghent (Belgium) and my lineage can be traced back to Flanders for nearly 800 years. As a result I’m culturally very Flemish. Ghent, a city which characterises this Flemish attitude is politically progressive and simultaneously stuck in time in the sense that it is an authentic medieval city which is considered a living museum. It’s always been characterized by a great freedom of thinking.
The region’s cultural landscape is changing more rapidly than many parts of Belgium and Europe. A continuing migration of Muslim immigrants is also a result of sympathies toward those seeking political asylum has been a factor in the recent cultural shift. This Islamification of Belgium has created a societal polarity that is difficult to reconcile. Freedom of speech for all religions and equal rights for women in a progressive society often times seem incompatible. The question arises: how can an existing culture be preserved while supporting the influx of what is in many ways an opposing culture especially for women? Therein lies my basic subject: Cultural preservation and politics meeting morally progressive ideals through the lens of a female. In my lifetime, women in Belgium have acquired a high level of independence and equality with men. In marriage for example, the woman is legally not allowed to take the partner’s name and therefore is not symbolically possessed by her partner. Additionally, my female centric subject broadens by bearing witness to the current European culture placing unprecedented pressure on women to conform to certain unrealistic cookie-cutter standards. We’re seeing record numbers of women enduring plastic surgeries such as breast augmentation and vaginal reconstruction as a result of strong externally imposed pressure to look a certain way. Along with this comes the related problem of the eating disorders of anorexia and bulimia…
In my future work, I’ll continue to address paradoxical nature of the modern female.
GLASS: Where is it possible to see your work on exhibit?
Sandra: Recently I finished a large outdoor installation for the glass garden at the Glass Museum in Frauenau, Germany. You can also see my recent work at the Art o Nivo Gallery in Bruges, Belgium through January 16th, 2010.