INVISIBLE (2018) is a monumental installation featuring five, eleven-foot female totems rendered in cotton-knit and wool that posit a surrealistic reinterpretation of the sock puppet. The totems are illuminated by a white-neon caption rendered in the artist’s handwriting stating: “for without feet, one cannot escape.” The sculpture pays symbolic homage to representations of the female body throughout art history — most notably the likes of the Venus of Willendorf and the caryatids atop Greece’s Erechtheion — while simultaneously subverting the banality of the sock puppet and memorializing the historical association of femininity with the craft of sewing.
Springing from a profound interest in chronicling personal, autobiographical experience through art, the series emerged from a sock-puppet portraiture activity led by Kellems Dominik with her daughters — six and seventeen years old, respectively — in 2008. Subjecting herself to the same directive, the artist began producing a series of hand-rendered soft-sculptures of fictive women at various ages. The fifth and final sculpture in the INVISIBLE colonnade is a self-portrait of the artist.
In 2014 Liz Alderman of the New York Times described the anthropomorphic caryatids as “unflinching atop the Acropolis, as the fires of war blazed around them, bullets nicked their robes, and bombs scarred their curvaceous bodies.” Like the caryatids, the unique visages and bodies of Kellems Dominik’s soft-sculptures reflect the physical affliction of time, disease, trauma, and pain. The totemic females of INVISIBLE nonetheless reclaim their physicality to stand tall and unabashed, showcasing individual particularities of the aging female body brazenly in the nude. Kellems Dominik’s soft-sculptures reassert agency over the representation of the female body, exalting beauty in the grotesque, and grace despite the toll of experience.
Photo: Installation view at the Nautilus Hotel South Beach. Art Basel Miami Beach, 2018. © BFA.com