Over 2000 bars of soap on one wall...
The bars of soap are used as a substitute to an architectural unit to build. They echo old bricks, old books, old stones. They refer to ruins and archeological sites, where once an city was standing. The soaps’ ephemeral soft texture brings a touch of fragility and modernity to the ancient world they are depicting. Their everyday use on bare hands or naked bodies give the installations a sense of sensuality and intimacy.
Sometimes the soap’s fragility is challenged and made to last. It can be mixed with concrete, glues, varnishes, papers or mesh to ensure its longevity. This fragile and sensitive material can then stand the test of time. After a while, the soap may loose its perfume, but it won't crumble or break. Unless rained on, the soap walls can "stand proud" for years, despite everyone's belief.
In some installations, the viewers are encouraged to engage with the soap-walls. They are immersed in a space where they smell, touch or engrave messages inside the soft texture of the soaps. The "Mess-age" was the title of the installation at the Saatchi Gallery (2010-2022), the small gallery Mess, near the restaurant.
The soap is widely used for hands and bodies. Simple gestures. Common gestures. With Covid, these simple gestures became legalized gestures. Heavy and anxious gestures.
Being in room full of soap bars, which can no longer be used for cleaning your hands, allow the viewer to take a step back and have a giggle about the whole thing. But the temptation to touch the walls is irresistible. Soap calls for touching. In the absence of water, the viewer takes a stick and makes a graffiti instead. The hands may still be unhygienic but the mind is at ease.