Ruth Scheuing: Anatomy of the Suit/Geometry of the Body

Date: Aug 5 - Sep 5, 1993
Artist: Ruth Schueing

Ruth Scheuing’s 1993 installation Anatomy of the Suit/Geometry of the Body challenges understandings of power structures and male-female relationships evident in the clothes we wear, and comments on how we perceive and structure our world. Scheuing’s deconstructed and reassembled garments are presented in three separate but related bodies of work: Alterations/Transformations is a series of physically deconstructed business suits rearranged in decorative configurations that humorously deny the symbol of male power represented by the suit; Busts is part of a series of larger-than-life-size women’s dresses in sheet metal, cut after patterns from the 19th century and held together with screws and bolts, or “pop-rivets” – materials with typically masculine associations, and; Metamorphoses tells important stories of women who gave voice to their work as weavers and spinners, including Arachne, Philomela and the three daughters of Minyas.



Language uses textile terms metaphorically and in common sayings. We speak of the “social fabric” of a society, which we might attempt to alter; and “the thread of life,” by which some of us barely manage to survive. Our lives become “interwoven” with the people around us and sometimes they become “enmeshed.” We try not to be fooled by “the emperor’s new clothes,” but sometimes we are, anyway.

Implied narratives are important aspects of language. This started with Penelope who, through her weaving and unweaving for three years, stalled the demands of her while Odysseus was away for 20 years (13 Men or Penelope, Penelope, Buried Stories).

Other stories from Greek mythology, written down by Ovid in “Metamorphoses,” and which deal with weaving, have influenced this recent work. These stories and this period are interesting for the ways they reflect social values that shaped Western culture as it exists today.



Artist Statement, By Ruth Scheuing