Genesis Belanger

Sculpting Desire

VAULT meets the young New York artist whose work parodies grotesque consumerism.

BY EMMA O’NEILL

“I think art is a lot like tunnelling out of prison with a teaspoon,” says Brooklyn-based artist Genesis Belanger. The sentiment fits neatly with a practice that brings to life everyday domestic objects to address the complex and ubiquitous phenomenon of mass consumption. Though Belanger works primarily in clay, concrete and stoneware, the tools of her cultural ‘dig’, so to speak, extend far beyond the simple teaspoon.

In fact, beyond the initial surprise of the apparently benign or conventional mediums used to carry challenging ideas, what draws us to the work is its variety. In Center Piece (2018), blooming flowers are interspersed with a gaping mouth and plucking fingers; in At Rest (2018), a cigarette slumps, limp, over an ashtray; in Flutter (2018), the lick of a lighter flame is actually a tiny tongue; Dog in Heels (2018) depicts a hot dog squeezed into a stoneware wedge heel. These unsettling assemblages seem all the more alive for their smooth, unglazed surfaces, pale fondant hues and soft curves. In humanising – and perverting – consumables, the artist seeks to interrogate the habits of the viewer. “Maybe they will see a reflection of something familiar and personal in the work but in a new context,” she suggests. “Acts they’ve once done without consideration may now be considered.” Harnessing the seductiveness of clay, the soft surfaces and sundae-sweet colours both entice and mirror the viewer – or what the viewer wants to be. Despite their strangeness, the works have a beauty that draws us close.

The sculptures are bizarrely sexy, with their gaping mouths, manicured nails and voluptuousness. The forms compel us to consider the human tendency to anthropomorphise our possessions so that they are... Subscribe to read this article in full

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