deflowered by Lea
4–27 September 2019
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
Part of U30+ production programme for supporting young artists.
Young Slovenian artist Lea Culetto stands out among the artists of her generation for her ability to address sensitive topics, from menstruation to stretch marks, and to use problematic material, from menstrual blood to body hair, to make art that – far from being dramatic, disturbing and aggressive, is mostly intimate, delicate, fresh and pervaded by a sense of innocence and happiness. Culetto’s work focuses on the feminine body, and responds to the way it is shaped by the “male gaze” through fashion, advertising and the media – thus positioning herself in a long tradition of feminine – and feminist – art; her main media are embroidery and assemblage, used to produce garments and objects displayed in installations or site-specific interventions; she loves pink, dolphins and all that glitters. 1000 and One Nights is a floor installation made out of hundreds of bras; Your Housewife II is a video installation focused on the character of the housewife: in a set filled up with any sort of kitschy domestic knick knacks, from angels to trolls to madonnas to dolls painted in pink and glitter, a monitor shows the video of a woman wearing trashy fetish accessories, while preparing a plucked hen in her kitchen; A Room of Her Own is a site specific installation done in an hotel room, where Lea Culetto embroidered her initials (LC) and the images of various domestic objects – underpants, a hairbrush, a razor, a whisk – on every pillow, sheet and blanket, in an act of personalisation and appropriation of an anonymous place; in Herbarium, she collects clumps, chunks from her menstrual blood and she displays them as they were dried flowers in an herbarium, or in shaped photo frames as they were pictures of relatives and ancestors; finally, My Life is a Hairy Tale is a series of wearable, skin colored collants decorated with braids made out of human hair: would female body hair become socially acceptable, were it “arranged” as a hairstyle?
Culetto will present in a gallery setup the most recent output of her visual research: the street fashion brand deflowered by Lea: a series of embroidered, wearable garments, marked by political, religious and feminist themes, combined into a whole with the help of kitsch esthetics and exaggeration. Troublesome topics – such as nipples, menstruation, stretch marks and body hair – are presented in unexpected ways, with irony used to discuss topics that are often perceived as taboo. In contrast with the fashion industry, which forces on us a model of the perfect body, causing in young people low self-esteem and various psychological and physical diseases, deflowered by Lea wants to spread a healthy and positive body image. Using different techniques such as embroidery, ornamental stitching, beading, knitting, braiding etc., Lea combines fragments from damaged clothes, second-hand clothes and fabric, and this manual work gives a story to each garment. The humans wearing her designs – real, unretouched bodies – become a live gallery, bringing the ideas embedded in the clothes out into the streets.
Lea Culetto (b. 1995, Trbovlje) uses embroidery, assemblage and mixed media to create objects and installations that challenge notions of femininity and feminism through the prisms of fashion, the gaze and the body. Group exhibitions in Slovenia and abroad include: Into the Space (Bežigrad Gallery I, Ljubljana, 2015), DSU ROG (Gallery Zelenica, 2015), Transformation of Image (Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, 2016), ROOMS 2017 (Kappatos Gallery, Athens), Young Female Art in Šiška (Kino Šiška, 2017), PREMIERA 2018 – 4th Triennial of Young Artists. Cultural Body, Space, Placements (Gallery of Contemporary Art, Celje), ObjectiFication (2018) and Feminist Art at UL ALUO, Part 1: One, Two … Five (Hairy) Proposals for an Éden Better Tomorrow (2019), both Gallery Alkatraz, as well as the exhibition Strands by ČIPke initiative (Cerkno, 2019). deflowered by Lea is her first solo exhibition, which had its premiere at Galerija Miklova hiša (Ribnica, 2019) in co-production with Aksioma.
A graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana (UL ALUO), Lea received the UL ALUO Award 2018 for her “sharp, original approach to the thematisation of taboos in connection with the female body through a diverse range of approaches in the field of contemporary art”.
Author: Lea Culetto
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2019
Co-production: Galerija Miklova hiša, Ribnica
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana.
Aksioma’s programme is additionally supported by the Ministry of Public Administration as part of the public call for co-financing projects for the development and professionalisation of NGOs and volunteerism as well as by JSKD