Amazon Armor

This series is part of my projects completed in 2013 and 2014, representing my thoughts on the body as an active political agent that constructs the attitude towards ourselves and the others. Among these works are “Pervert Veggies” 1,2,3, 2013 ; “Madona of the External Silicone Breast” 2014 and “Deconstruction of VALIE EXPORT’S “Tuch and Tap Cinema” 2013-14. This body of works had been inspired by my double mastectomy and the changes in my physical and mental understanding of self after this radical body change. The myth about the women-warriors – the Amazons – who cut their breasts off to better steady their bows, was the inspiration not only for this series of projects, but also for the way I think about myself, my new body shape, its functionality and beauty.

“Amazon Armor” is the title of this performance art photo series, but also the “umbrella” name of all this work, which has been also published in the book with the same name and written about by art critic Nadia Plungian and artist and my collaborator Oleg Mavromatti.

“Amazon Armor” was a continuation of my personal and collective players with vegetables that are meant to create an overtly sexualized substitute, a prosthesis for my breast, and for any real or imaginary sexual organs. Differently to “Pervert Veggies” series however here the inspiration does not come from internet folklore or archaic performance tradition of extension and substituting sex organs with vegetables and fruits, but is wider and incorporates references from literature and history of art, such as the Amazon women, depictions of St. Sebastian, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.

The performance is made in close collaboration with artist Adam Zaretsky. We had improvised with different objects to create personals, which might sometimes be directly related to cultural artifacts- be a queer version of them – or create new chimeras.

These series were made during a residency at Byrdcliffe Artists Colony in Woodstock, NY.

“…since 2013, Rossa has been working on the large-scale umbrella project Amazon Armor, which is entirely devoted to playing with existing and imaginary breasts and includes videos, installations, objects, interactive initiatives, and several distinct photo series (Pervert Veggies, 2013-2014). The solution suggested in these works is amazing in its simplicity and deep understanding of the problem: one must stop imitating others in order to openly state one’s identity and acknowledge its fluidity by once and for all rejecting neurotic, heteronormative self-determination.

The variety of artistic methods and genres used by the artist, created a proverbial open wound by referencing stigmas, transferring the corporeal into the metaphysical realm, while at the same time exemplifying the emptiness and openness of sensation.

This vibration of significations, the distance between the problem and the solution, turned out to be an important answer  to the question of gender fluidity/flexibility and the rights of women to speak of their external and internal changes aloud.

Amazon Armor is an intentional departure from surrealism and redundant explanations of the “additional gender,” coolly distancing itself and proposing the randomness of the decision as a political move.

In the photographs, the artist, as part of a free-form play, holds up various pairs of objects to her chest, including vegetables, that are supposed to “symbolize” breasts. This situation does not require the attachment or implantation of foreign objects: it is a play, a suggestion, a shimmering.

The formal leeway here cannot be characterized as post-modernist since the entire project is conceived as reevaluation and description of the stigmatized body. The questions the artist is asking herself and the viewer are entirely concrete and involve neither subversion nor hidden irony. What inspires desire – the shape of reproductive organs or the possession of them? What leads to relationships, violence, acknowledging a partner as “the other;” what is playful and what is irrevocably inviolably serious? How exactly is the territory of the “inappropriate” formed? How can a gender-queer reconfiguration and construction in the sphere of identity be realized – not only in theory, but also in everyday practice?”

Nadia Plungian 2014