Australian Video Art Archive

Catherine E. Bell


Soap, Slip, Slash

00:05:00 2005

The work entitled Soap, Slip, Slash, 2005, is a perverse ritual that involves the artist shaving the belly of a pregnant friend. The title may suggest impending danger but the outcome is a knife edge fluctuation between sinister intention and innocent fascination. The viewer is denied the privileged position of voyeur as the work evokes bristling discomfort.

This work extends from a previous performance This Little Piggy… Fades to Pink which explores themes such as infanticide and engages in liminal role play of the female care giver turned nasty. The piglet is a substitute for the newborn tormented by a mother inflicted with von Munchausen by proxy syndrome. Both works involve the use of a razor, an implement associated with the masculine removal of hair. However, the function is subverted from grooming utensil to feminine weapon.

In Soap, Slip, Slash, the artist highlights the vulnerable pregnant state, exposes primal desires and societal taboos. The recent case of a woman abducting her pregnant neighbour and cutting her along an existing caesarian scar to steal the fetus and claim it as her own is threateningly re-enacted. The psychological impulses that trigger such heinous crimes are explored in the liminal zone where the artist can momentarily assume aberration under the guise of performance.
- Catherine Bell

DVD available.