BELLEVUE ARTS MUSEUM INSTALLATION

DANGER OF NOSTALGIA IN WALLPAPER FORM (IN UTERO) | Holly Ballard Martz 

August 2020 – December 2022

From a distance, this installation appears to be an innocuously patterned wall, perhaps modeled on the pre-Raphaelite designs of Victorian radical William Morris. Closer inspection of the design reveals the installation to be made of dozens of cheap wire coat hangers, shaped and soldered into the repeated diagrammatic form of the human female reproductive system.


– BELLEVUE ARTS MUSEUM

DANGER OF NOSTALGIA (IN UTERO)

wire coat hanger, steel wire, and paint

“I spent weeks painstakingly bending hundreds of wire coat hangers into the likeness of the female reproductive system, an exercise in endurance for my hands and a representation of the slow and painful trudge towards full reproductive rights for women in America.”

– Holly Ballard Martz

By installing her piece in the style of ornate wallpaper, Martz manipulates an instrument of the days of ‘backstreet’ abortions—the horror of which we believe to have been banished from any civilized society—into something fit to adorn even the most elegant drawing room. The installation is a societal taboo hidden in plain sight.

Martz bends and forms each piece of wire by hand—an exercise in endurance for her fingers and a metaphor for the slow and painful trudge towards full reproductive rights for women in America. Martz’s craft presents a vivid reminder of a visceral physical reality that underpins the perceived gentility of the absence of women’s rights, tied to a particularly American prudish negation of the realities of the human body. Martz urges us to question what else lurks beneath the surface of our civilization, be it in history, in society, or in ourselves.

– BELLEVUE ARTS MUSEUM