“Floating World” is a translation of Ukiyo, the name of the pleasure quarters in Edo, Japan, filled with Geisha, Maiko, Kabuki actors and concubines who floated above responsibilities of mundane existence in the brothels and teahouses.
But what intrigued me most was the Japanese homophone for Ukiyo, meaning Sorrowful World, the earthly plane of death and rebirth from which Buddhists seeks release. Even the name of the pleasure quarters – the place people go to forget everyday worries and indulge in bodily gratification – alludes to a language of attraction that tempers beauty with awareness of the body’s transience.”
— Karen LaMonte
“In all cultures, clothing is an unspoken language: but the kimono is the most codified. Every aspect of its design – including imagery, sleeve length, and obi type and tie – is highly significant, communicating volumes about the wearer.”
“In place of the West’s preoccupation with the self, the Japanese idea of beauty and its relationship to individuality, the body and nudity highlights group-centered conformity. From public bathing to the kimono itself, the body and its specificities are not the object of focus – neither covered nor ignored, but studiously rendered invisible.
In eliminating the defining curves of the female body, making it uniform and neutral, the kimono literally erases the self and individuality, transcending the corporeal beauty of the wearer. By putting on the kimono, one is assuming one’s appropriate place in society: its language announces and reproduces that social role.”
The material LaMonte uses for her sculptures is integral to the concept. For Floating World, her materials are defined by their place and origin in the world.
Karen LaMonte is an American artist whose works include sculpture, drawing, printmaking and site specific installation. Her art explores themes of presence and absence, beauty and ephemerality, through the physicality of the human body and its environment.
LaMonte uses dresses as a metaphor for gender, person and body. Her sculptures are uncanny in their rich detail and implied human presence. They explore cultural identity as well as the boundaries of self and society. Her use of material– glass, iron, ceramics and bronze– is founded on a belief that materials have meaning and are critical to the idea of a sculpture.
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