On the Opening night of Love Letter: Be With You , my Mum raised an interesting critique on my ballet slippers in the exhibition. (You can always rely on parents for that. Haha.)
She asked: Why do the shoes appear to be so strong and borderline bulky? Why aren’t they more like the soft satin slippers that ballerinas use, elegant and exquisite – characteristics they’re known for portraying?
I wondered if anyone else had similar questions, so I decided to write up a more comprehensive context to the makings and concept behind the glass slippers.
For me, this is a work on the persistent strength of character. I’ve always seen ballet dancers as warriors, which I guess could be strange to think about at first but it’s more to do with their stoic attitude to physical pain and transformation of the mental limits into seemingly effortless grace. It’s also about the unseen struggle of the dancer who keeps silent about her pain to the audience. Ballet for me is an intensely feminine but strong type of art, it shows the mettle of feminine endurance.
I had made them out of glass, because glass has an indomitable and wild nature, especially during its casting stages. But there’s also an element of sensitivity and transparency and this is the effortless elegance that holds its spectators captive. When we see the finished product, we don’t see the weeks of effort that goes into each piece but only of the intrigue it presents itself in. That’s art. Beauty with Depth. But it’s a depth we can only feel.
I have included ribbons but excluded the feet. Even though it’s the physical body that keeps the shoes aloft and full of life, why is it missing? Is it just because it is more beautiful that way? Perhaps. But you would only be half right if you answered so. It’s because you never see the feet of the ballerinas on stage; you only see the soft satin that wraps like a medal around them. The slippers represent the prestige of being on stage, in the spotlight, in front of the audience. The slippers also represent what shields the audience from seeing what it took to get there. In a way, my shoes are trying to represent what is missing rather than what is there.
It’s a piece that depicts the struggle of the artist. Of any artist in any field. Because it is a battle for every artist to get there: on stage, in front of an audience. It is a battle to believe what you’re trying to do matters, to get up again every time you take a fall and it’s a process of saying, “This is not the end!”
I would like to thank everyone who came to the exhibition on the opening night and afterwards. It was truly a pleasure to meet all the new faces and get reacquainted with familiar ones. :)
I would also like to thank my Mum for inspiring further attention to the context of this series.
Each piece was developed to have its own character in the ribbons and colour scheme, allowing it to bring a different energy when it interacts with the rest of the “dancers”. Did you have a favourite?
Edit: Udee Online Magazine has done a feature on the Persistence series! It has been a pleasure getting to know Laura La Rosa (editor of Udee.) and talking more about the future of my artistic trajectory.