Performative clay, ma.ter (essay)


In her paper, Performative Raw Clay Practices and Ceramic Firing Techniques, artist Agustina Andreoletti states:

"…clay is not a passive matter relying on external agents to set it in motion, instead, it is matter that carries its own power and energy of transformation. Yet clay bears the sign of touching; it documents the engagement between a responsive material and the hand (or other non-human being or thing). The material and the human body exist by themselves; however, they are at the same time experienced and used by the other. The unfolding of relations, meanings, and transformations through the physicality of touch create a space for differentiation. The openness to malleability that clay offers requires a physical difference to be experienced, a tactile experience of continual change." 1

These astute observations of clay as a non-passive, haptic, malleable and transformative medium reimagined anew over time, were at the forefront in conceiving the exhibition Body, Vessel, Clay: Black Women Ceramics and Contemporary Art, recently on view at Two Temple Place and set to tour to York Art Gallery this summer. As I wrote in the catalogue essay, the exhibition probes seventy years of ceramic making spanning modernism to the present.
(*essay excerpt by Dr Jareh Das)