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The Nude Existence series created by Manuela Holzer is an investigation into the fragmented body. This series of work is inspired by Sartre’s Nausea (1965) and consists of various sand casted sculptures. The work is created by forming an impression in the sand and pouring plaster of paris into the cavity of sand. In order to create the impression, I use my own body and in other instances animal vertebrae and bones. The Nude Existence series is a study of the naked human body in relation to pressure, burial and vulnerability.


The overflow (rupturing) of the plaster around the cavity often take on these coral-like textures which contrast to the relatively smooth texture of the casts. Each of the faces, spines and body parts are life-size due to the fact that the sculptures were cast from my body. The faces, for example, are able to accentuate every detail, providing an unforgiving honesty and captures the body in its true nakedness.


All of these sculptures are extremely fragile which speaks to a sense of emotional fragility and vulnerability. The process of making the work includes the immersion of the face and body into the sand. This creates a feeling of suffocation and burial. The impressions left in the sand captures the facial contortions of distress and even being overwhelmed. The sensations that accompany the sculpting process include the pressure, weight and texture of the ground. As a result, the plaster appears like sand or stone due to the textures adhering to the surface of the wet plaster. It is this ambiguity of soft and hard material that speaks to me of the vulnerability and force inherent in the work.

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