The Oyster Dance...in which a naked woman danced alone on a small stage to the sound of a piano. The best of them was Olivia, the Oyster Dancer, who placed a raw oyster on her forehead, leant back and let it slide down her body without ever falling off. The oyster crisscrossed her torso right down to her forefoot, from which she would kick it up into the air, catch it on her forehead, and begin the process anew.
The central theme of the booth is the psychological impact of man on nature and its consequences on a personal and collective level coupled with a trauma-coping-strategy that casts light on a seemingly hopeless situation.
As in previous works, Anna McCarthy stresses the inseparability between the private and political by using an everyday image to describe the bigger picture: A shiny soap dispenser containing – on closer inspection – various drowning insects in the electric pink gel-like soap, which is typically supposed to connote cleanliness and health, has become the aggressor, suffocating its unsuspecting victims under a 'pretty' gauze. This image covers the central wall of the booth and is a metaphor for how one can feel unconscious and debilitated by the immensity of wrongdoing, for the disequilibrium between man and nature.
Instead of ‘back to nature’ McCarthy follows full-on human approach by exploring ways of ‘forward with nature’, contrasting highly artificial and natural elements within the booth. The objects, sculptures and paintings are oozing, moist and overgrowing. The abundance of plants and dripping wet larvae-like objects seem to be giving birth to something new. The plants are painted on two large PVC panels wrapping themselves around female bodies as symbols for healing wounds, overcoming physical and psychological trauma in form of thoughtful growth. The ceramic sculptures shimmer white, reflecting their surroundings, their drips pour down the walls as if flooding the space – these oyster- and worm-like molluscan creatures seem to have been reborn, they are taking over the booth, perhaps even the art fair, in a jubilant ringing in of a new era.
The human no longer exists merely as an intersexual being, having morphed into a peaceful, independent, and self-reproducing hybrid being - half mollusc, half woman. Man has become superfluous – like wild oysters; this being is a survivor, superseding man, his violence, and his greed – thus this breed cannot be consumed and/or eaten. The creatures have learnt how to breathe under submersion heralding Ama Divers as its idols. Water purls down its thriving form, forever in flux, a self-contained circuit along whose graceful lines it steadily reconstitutes itself, drop by drop.
Burial Dream, 21 x 28 cm, pencil on paper, 2023
Origin of the World, 150 x 175 cm, plaster, jute, metal, string, pendulum, ceramics, 2023
Washcycle Phase II, 21 x 28 cm, pencil on paper, 2023
Photos @Nicola Morittu