Challenging Beauty Standards with Sculptures and Sound

Visceral and existential; Bora, a French multidisciplinary artist known for her sculptures, her digital pieces, and her sound performances. She takes her fascination with the human body combined with the experimental nature of her music to create mesmerising and engrossing 3d figures. While completely self-taught in 3d digital sculpture making, she holds a bachelor's degree in Sound and Performance from Catalyst - Institute for Creative Arts and Technology, Berlin.

With her Instagram full of arresting imagery and the unique and haunting music accompanying them, it may be surprising to hear that she is the daughter of classical musicians and someone who played the violin for a decade. However, while grateful for her education, Bora grew frustrated with being put in a box of a single genre:

“I love classical music but when you play an instrument you are more like an interpreter of the composer, and that’s beautiful but I wanted to be more experimental with my art and embrace my own language.”

“I feel like nowadays with Instagram and other social media sites, our most used sense is sight and for me, the sound is not explored enough.”

As an artist who utilises both graphics and sound, it is undeniable that both mediums feed off each other in Bora’s art. The figures, even when still, have a flow to them, as instead of smooth rigid figures we see curves and waves rippling through their bodies. A great example of this is her newest piece, “She’s so celestial”. The hypnotic, hot pink, the figure was made from a scan of Bora’s own body which she then sculpted and applied movement to through software. It can be looked at as a woman dancing with her reflection, doing the opposite of what society expects her to do by choosing to love and celebrate her body.

Bora is fascinated with bodies and their stories, even enlisting some of her friends to model for her sculptures. She interviews them, asking how they perceive their bodies and through that conversation, ideas for new artwork are formed. “I cry when I cry about you” was made by scanning the head and torso of her friend’s body and sculpting the rest. They had a long conversation about transforming oneself and being a hybrid aspect of identity and eventually, they told her they dreamt of being a mermaid. In true Bora style, she did not go down the route of making the mermaid pretty in the eyes of society but produced an image one can only describe as raw. The creature retains a pair of legs even though it has a tail and two arms attached to its back. The way the limbs are purple is as if it has emerged from a human body and its old vessel is decaying now that the creature is finished with it. This could possibly be closer to what a mermaid would look like in real life.

One thing you will notice is that a lot of these bodies represented on her page are curvaceous and nude. This is purposefully done to break the hyper sexualisation of the body and show nudity in a non-sexualised way.

I would like to break the censorship and norms applied to bodies. Breaking the censorship towards what is called beautiful or normatively beautiful.”

In her work titled “Nameless. I am a river” instead of scanning a body, she sculpted these figures so that she could really work on the posture, the distortion and the flesh. She wanted to show the beauty of flesh and curves, and she achieves this as the glistening skin of the figure makes it hard to look away. The theme of reflection is repeated here, however, this time the face is looking away and is covered in a mask that seems to be painted on. We can glean from this that the figure is gaining confidence in her appearance.

Bora often wears her sculptures for her photos, videos and live performances. “The night is our day” is one of these, in which she dons a ceramic mask by the seaside. The teal blue of the mask matches the dark blue seaside background and the baby blue of Boras cascading locks of hair. The face of the mask is inspired by Medusa, and unlike most artists, Bora refuses to see her as a monster. Women in mythology have always been written by men and therefore reduced to monsters when they do not conform to societies impossible standards. “I find so much power in the character of medusa, I got really obsessed by the symbol of her and I wanted to explore it outside of the objectification and give it a new approach.”

This year, Bora has released an audio-visual album called “Unhealed Healers” and is already planning ahead, with an interactive website in the works, a show in Vienna in April, and many virtual shows along with more new art planned for 2021, it is fair to say we are excited to see what more Bora has to offer.

To discover more other works of BORA please see her Instagram @boramurmure

Follow Victoria on her Twitter at @victoria_agwu