Parodies of Female Flesh in the Fabric Sculptures of Tamara Kostianovsky

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Tamara Kostianovsky creates three-dimensional sculptural forms with repurposed clothing, fabric and needlework. It is argued that these sculpted textiles become meditations on flesh. Her works that depict carcasses and body parts, in particular, explore the paradoxes of embodiment in order to speak to issues of gender, trauma, and migration. In this article, the author describes a number of ways in which Kostianovsky has parodied canonical works of fine art by Manet, Goya, and Botticelli as well as the eroticized anatomical illustrations of Gautier. The five works on which she focuses here metabolize their diverse quotations such that they engage with restrictive tropes and conventions that operate in representations of female bodies and subjectivities. Sculpted clothing reads as flesh, flesh as meat, and meat as a symbol for conscious embodiment and a vulnerable and violated mortality. They thus become a parody of the dualistic moralism of the memento mori, as well as the phallocentric hypocrisy of the idealized Venus. The author also explores how Kostianovsky’s controlled and ferocious stitching makes visible the suturing of identity, the cartography of violence, and the conscious and unconscious scarring that writes bodies into the landscapes that produce them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-375
Number of pages18
JournalTextile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2017


  • Clothing
  • Tamara Kostianovsky
  • gender politics
  • parody
  • representations of the body

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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