Hymen – Ivan Lam

In his new project entitled Hymen Ivan Lam once again throws caution to the wind, with a fresh perspective and approach to his work. This time, the topic he is concentrating on is, female blood, meaning vaginal and uterine blood loss. Blood standing in context with sexual reproduction such as menarche, menstruation and bleeding after defloration is traditionally and globally being silenced or connected to mostly negative meanings or beliefs in order to control and manipulate female bodies. So, the way women and men perceive and judge female body processes today, stems from historical mechanisms constructed primarily by men.

Oddly enough, Ivan Lam – a male artist – takes up this complex theme and turns it into art. Compared to his last project, Vanity Project X, which was already showing a strong tendency towards abstraction, in his current work, the reduction in style and technique has increased significantly. A heavy and strong topic is being wrapped in refined and subtle forms – in motion. Lam limits himself to three object and material types, which in a performance come together simulating female bleeding. The green construction safety net piece over which Lam pours symbolises the mucous membrane, better known as the “hymen”. As opposed to prevailing beliefs around the hymen as a protective net, the implied menstrual blood drips through it, leaving a red trace on all of the ten numbered diaper cloth surfaces Lam uses as an image carrier. During the presentation, the red paint becomes darker, reminding the beholder even more of oxidised menstrual blood. Even the netting heights change constantly, mimicking jerky movements exerted during sexual intercourse, and that leads to another female blood reference, namely the destroyed hymen after defloration.

Despite the abstract scene and non-traditional artistic mediums used like a canvas or a brush, Lam depicts very clearly the passage from childhood to womanhood. There is a certain sensibility and respect in his refined minimalistic approach towards this pristine natural process he actually embraces as a far-sighted man, father and artist. The commonly negative attitude towards (the first) menstrual bleeding and the loss of “virginity” – both connected to increasing fertility, sexual desire and ultimately detachment from childhood – is being turned into an offensive and brave, yet clean, elegant and aesthetically refined artistic and philosophical re-evaluation of long obsolete biases towards the female human being.

Dr. Hanni Geiger

Dr. Hanni Geiger is an art and design historian and theorist. She studied fashion and textile design in Zagreb, Croatia, as well as art history, art education and intercultural communication at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich (LMU), where she completed her doctorate in 2014 with a dissertation on the British-Cypriot couturier and artist Hussein Chalayan (form follows culture. Entgrenzungen im Konzept-Design Hussein Chalayans, Vienna, Cologne, Weimar: Böhlau 2016 [= mode global; vol. 1). From 2015 to 2016 she undertook a research period in Malaysia and Singapore and, to date, has collaborated with Wei-Ling Gallery in Kuala Lumpur. Previously, from 2013 to 2015, she was a research associate and lecturer at the Institute of Art History at the LMU Munich. From 2011 to 2012 she was part of the research project Exil, Migration und Transfer at the Center for Advanced Studies in Munich (led by Prof Dr BurcuDogramaci). Further career steps include among others the project work at the Goethe-Institute Croatia, as well as the editorial work for the reviewed (art) history academic online journalssehepunkte and lesepunkte. Her research focuses on modern and contemporary art, the interdependencies between (fashion) design, art and migration and the relationship between mobility, exile, transculturality and identity building, as well as postcolonial artistic positions.

Hymen will be showing from 14th March – 29th April 2018 at Wei-Ling Contemporary.

Wei-Ling Contemporary is located at Lot No RT-1, 6th Floor The Gardens Mall, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Admission hours are Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 7pm. Please call +603 2282 8323 /+603 2260 1106 or email: weilinggallery.amanda@gmail.com for more information.