What is this supposed to denote?
This is a photo of a performance art piece by Senga Nengudi that took place under a bridge. The work, titled "Freeway Fets," was a symbolic vehicle for healing divisions between black men and women. It included elements of African masquerade combined with Nengudi's nylon sculpture.
Another work of hers, a sculptural piece titled "Inside/Outside," also incorporates the nylon element she favored. Nengudi has said, "I am working with nylon mesh because it relates to the elasticity of the human body."
Why is the rubber semicircle deflated? Was that intentional? I'm asking because it reminds me of a floating device.
I'm not sure exactly why the rubber semicircle is deflated but Nengudi's work was meant to be somewhat anthropomorphic. The bulging and sagging forms are meant to evoke body parts. I think that the rubber piece is also playing into her idea of pushing a material to its limits--stretched and deflated.
She also challenged the viewer to draw their own conclusions from her work. This was part of a series she called "R.S.V.P." because she wanted people to respond.
I really like this sculpture. What does it represent?
Senga Nengudi fills nylon pantyhose with sand or other materials to evoke parts of the body. She has said, "I am working with nylon mesh because it relates to the elasticity of the human body. From tender, tight beginnings to sagging. . . . The body can only stand so much push and pull until it gives way, never to resume its original shape.”
Her inspiration for using nylon and thinking about its relationship to the human body began in the early 1970s during her first pregnancy.
Marvelous, I have never seen art that way before.
It's really fascinating! I love the way she takes something that is so common, especially nylons, which are such a typical part of women's work dress, and uses it to send a multilayered message.
Thank you for explaining that to me.
Tell me more!
Senga Nengudi was inspired to work with pantyhose after her first pregnancy, when she looked back on how her body had changed. The material's ability to stretch and adapt to new forms, as well as it's status as so much a part of women's dress, inspired her. She said, “from tender, tight beginnings to sagging. . . . The body can only stand so much push and pull until it gives way, never to resume its original shape.”
So true! Thank you.
What do you think this piece is about?
This work by Senga Nengudi references the human body. You can see how she uses nylon pantyhose filled with sand and other materials, to evoke the sagging of a human body. She was especially inspired by her first pregnancy, and the changes her body underwent, to use these materials, and I certainly see that in the work!
I can definitely see the sagging body. Very interesting. Any idea why an inner tube was used?
The inner tube is another material that can be stretched, inflated, and deflated into organic bodily forms. It's likely that Nengudi was attracted to it for the same reasons she was attracted to the pantyhose.
Wow! Yeah that makes sense.
I don't get it.
The way I see it, much of Nengudi's work has to do with material. She was inspired after her first pregnancy to start working with nylons, seeing the parallels between the way her body changed and the elasticity of that material.
She was interested in testing the limits of the material, stretching it to its very limits, manipulating them with sand, experimenting with the way they hang and sag. In this piece, that practice has been extended to the rubber semi circle as well.
The whole piece together evokes a vaguely anthropomorphic form. This was part of her R.S.V.P series, so named because she wanted people to respond. The meaning perhaps is not as important as your reaction to it. What did it make you think of at first?
To be honest and a bit crass... I thought the hanging nylons look remarkably like ballsacks.
Completely fair. I've always thought that it looked like a headdress of some sort. The circular part, framing the head with the extended pieces evoking horns and the pieces hanging down resembling hair of some kind.
But I'm probably biased because of the photo of her wearing it in the label on the wall next to the piece. Nengudi often donned her nylon sculptures for performances.
Yeah, I did think it also looked kind of like a headpiece.
Why is Senga Nengudi so important?
Senga Nengudi is best known for her dance performances and sculpture. Her work explores the boundaries and preconceptions of race and identity in the arts.
As you can see in her work, Inside/Outside, she frequently uses weighted pantyhose in her work as a reference to her background as a dancer and as a facsimile for flesh.
Thanks so much
I'd love to know more about this piece. Was it influence by the time it was made?
Senga Nengudi was inspired to start working with nylons after her first pregnancy after she saw how her body stretched and transformed. She thought the elasticity of the nylons mirrored that of her body and liked to explore the limitations of the material by stretching them to their breaking point and seeing how much they could withstand.
Here she has filled the nylons with sand to pull their weight down and employs a deflated rubber ring to create this slightly anthropomorphic sculpture. She would often wear her sculptures as headpieces.