On Tuesday I was in Leeds so only went to the Henry Moore Institute’ s current exhibition because the Art Gallery is closed for serious roof repairs . (I used to like the Central Library exhibitions but they now have Room 700 with black painted wall panels and funny blue discs on the ceiling as an ‘artspace’ for events/installations rather than gallery space for local artists .) Anyway Rebecca Warren’s bronze ‘Untitled (War Commission)’ was outside the Institute –
This was commissioned by several bodies for the First World War Centenary and is by way of introduction to this exhibition “The Body Extended : Sculpture and Prosthetics” as such it was easily my favourite piece . Basically , surviving prosthetics from the 19C onwards from various medical collections including Leeds’ own Thackray Museum were shown alongside 2d & 3d works (or photographs of works) with a tenuous link to the idea of body extensions first as replacements for lost limbs and then as improvements on their original natural counterparts . This was also tied in to WW1 although wooden legs and hook hands were not first invented then nor were ‘bodies fragmented in ways that had not been known before’ – from some of the mass of verbiage accompanying the exhibition ! I would have thought that the most important extensions or replacements resulted from surgical not mechanical advances during and after WW1 . A little historical research might also have revealed the obvious fact that bringing ‘the mutilated body into public life ‘ was not new .
The Art Theory and its strange language use apart ; body extensions should surely include armour , jewellery and clothes ? Here are finger extensions (L) and ‘moveable shoulder extensions’ (R) by Rebecca Horn . I rather like these but why not include photographs of carnival costumes as well ? Especially the headresses !