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Performance & installation at Edel Assanti in London, United Kingdom, 2022

Spidora is the exhibition’s protagonist: a woman-arthropod hybrid in the form of a wearable sculpture. Inspired by a Victorian illusion, which toured America with travelling carnivals, presented a curious beast that had a real woman’s head grafted onto the body of a spider, jarring contrast of female beauty with monstrosity. Perach’s sculpture and performance elaborates this ‘hideous’ form. From a vivid tufted body, multiple body parts including heads, hands, breasts and legs, protrude and accentuate the character’s contradictions: she is both feminine and grotesque, hidden and exposed, human and animal, powerful but a victim of her condition.

The gallery becomes Spidora’s web as Perach explores the overarching archetype of women as virile forces capable of both giving and taking life. Stages of Spidora’s reproductive cycle are laid out. A wooden tufting frame hinged to the wall displays the embryonic phase of future deconstructed beings. Flattened body parts are held here, composed of tightly knotted tufts in lurid colours, that appear like an anatomical drawing that simultaneously forms a protective shield for the matriarch. Overhead an ominous metal sack hangs from the ceiling. Through its chainmail bulge fleshy limbs and heads, indicating that this is where Spidora’s reproductions gestate.

Spidora’s implied laborious act of weaving and Perach’s own, is a means of considering the connotations of craft and carpet textiles. Transforming the image of carpet into a wearable sculpture, Perach retains aspects of this interiority. When used to perform, the fabric insulates the performer from their surroundings and constricts their movements to mechanical, jilted actions. The tension of the performance and the claustrophobia of the performer is a way of reflecting on histories of restrictive gender roles. In bringing Spidora to life, the exhibition both demonstrates and questions the enduring legacy of mythologies that conjure monstrous women. Evidently compelling and with addictive appeal, Perach asks, who do they really serve?

Text courtesy of Edel Assanti gallery

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