The Innate Tendencies of the Human Body
Written by John Hopper of The Textile Blog
There are many ways to explore the essence that is the human body. Creatively the list is as long as there are forms of creativity, the body has been explored through music, dance, painting, sculpture, the written word, and any number of visual ideals from textiles to ceramics, from jewellery to stone. Through the medium of the visual arts in particular, we have been able to define and redefine who and what we mean when identifying ourselves with the human body. With each generation we end up recalling and projecting a different formula, we have been doing so ever since we have been conscious of being human.
Our exploration and identity with the human form is part of a long running fascination with self, it is in fact an understandable need that we have with self. We are consciousness encased in flesh and bone. By definition we look out at the world through this our physical vessel, and in turn we are tempered by that vessel, influenced by its physical necessities, by its complexity of needs. In some sense we are contained by our physical mortality, yet in other ways we are also liberated by it. In many ways by exploring the world through our body, it can appear towards a domination of our thoughts and actions. To explore self through the senses of the human body, tests that self, but also expands the reach and capacity of that self.
Cos Ahmet is a multi-discipline artist who uses a range of those disciplines, in which to explore his relationship to, and his interaction with, the human form. He often combines disciplines within compositions, which can include textiles in the form of woven tapestry, as well as collage, printmaking, photography, and three-dimensional work. Cos uses the structure of techniques, the format of the process of making within those disciplines, in order to create new narratives in which to explore his personalised themes.
This is an artist that is happy to explore self, he is willing to make a journey of discovery towards a form of intimate self-awareness that allows him to use both the natural confines and the innate tendencies of the human body in order to explore more fully, the human form. Cos has no one overriding theme or restriction regarding the human form. He is more than happy to explore organically, to be able to reveal through discovery, an ongoing understanding of what it is to be human, and more importantly what it is to be himself within his own body, and the connection, interaction, and projection he finds in viewing the human form through his own identity, running through a range of elements and directions within that form.
He is interested in the immediacy of the physical, as well as the more intimate organic, and indeed its abstraction. He can be subtle and he can be overt, he can explore the landscape of skin and tone, and he can explore the internal mechanisms of brain and heart. Both are integral to who we are as self, and both need each other in order to function, and to survive. Cos interest in using textiles as a medium of exploration, particularly as regards the human body, is a fascinating one. He uses the practicalities of the medium to infer metaphor within the human body. Therefore, symbols that are innate to textiles become an innate part of the human body.
Thread becomes “thread as the thought”, warp becomes “warp as the skeleton”, weft becomes “weft as flesh or skin”. Collect thread, warp, weft together and you have the resulting ‘weave’, and to Cos weave represents the soul, the combination, the coming together in fact of the elements of the human form, to become more than its disparate elements, it becomes the structure that carries the soul, but that also is the soul. To honour self is to honour the body and its place in the world of the self, and this Cos does with reverence, understanding, and at times humour. We are the celebration of the body, of the human form in all its idiosyncrasies, its flavours, kinks, and desires, and it is this celebration that comes across so readily in Cos work.
By using traditional mediums, such as textiles, a medium that can be more often associated in the public’s mind with decoration and the practical than with the aesthetic, Cos as artist, is pushing the boundaries of that medium, asking it to include conceptual, social, and political themes that explore contemporary ideas and ideals concerned with sexuality, identity, and the altered-ego. To understand self, is to understand the body of self. Cos is aware that there are intrinsic labels involved in exploring and understanding the human body, labels that designate who you are in the public understanding, in other words, who you are to others, but not necessarily who you are to yourself.
Gender is a large part of who we are, or who we feel we are, as far as our physical bodies are concerned. It is often the first identifier for others to latch onto, and it is often the first that we use in order to identify ourselves, as it is often where we feel the most comfortable. It is no surprise then that Cos as a creative artist, has particular interest in the male form. He finds that involving aspects of the male form within his work allows him to reference, connect, and project through his own experience, a sometimes representational, but often suggestive reference to gender, body, and sexuality.
Along this theme Cos has appropriated a range of imagery from across social, historical, and cultural boundaries, tying them into his own projections as to self and the ever changing patterns, dialogues, and connections that that engenders.
Above all though, Cos is interested in seeing the physical body as a vessel, a container of the accumulated essence of who we are in both physical and spiritual formats. Therefore to Cos, the human body is the holder of memory, emotions, gestures, it is the focused point that enables us to take body and spirit and call it ‘self’. We are the physical animal, and we are the contemplative spirit. Together we are unique, and together we are to be celebrated, which is what Cos does through his work, and through his creative journey.
John Hopper is an artist, writer, facilitator and motivator for creative artists. 'Art in all its forms should be at the centre of our lives, not its periphery'.
Image: Caged II (after Rachel Whiteread), 2010, from the Torso Series