Near her a lactating sow, its pink body covered in shit. Two equally pink human babies lie by its teats. They too are covered in shit.
And then there’s another little girl. Naked and vulnerable, her young body that of a child. She looks up timidly. There she is, holding two plastic bags. They look suspiciously like Albert Heijn bags with their trade-mark blue colour, its familiar logo replaced by the word ‘Wonderland’in the same lettering. Slowly, this work is taking on meaning.
For the past few years, artist Harma Heikens has been drawing on subjects from the edge of our consumer society. She reveals that which is not usually clearly visible in a world that is obsessed by a flawless exterior. It’s the flip side of things that matters to her, as illustrated by an early drawing of “bambi’, not cute at all but throwing up violently. This hidden truth is in the distortion of what should be beautiful and whole, like the bust of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, her perfect skin covered in sores (or are they zits she’s scratched open?). Heikens takes a sardonic pleasure in tranforming clichés, by undermining the traditional meaning of the toy figures and dolls we know from childhood. Their hidden horrors become visible. She does this with gusto and imagination, and with a lot of conviction. Her latest work is a good example of this. It refers to a consumerism gone haywire, in which people as well as things have a market value. Youth and beauty, though transitory, have become commodities that only the happy few can afford to buy.
Harma Heikens wants to show us that all around us monsters are reaching out to youthful beauty in order to feed on it, hoping to regenerate what has been lost. They refuse to believe that there are things that aren’t actually for sale. The work touches on the age-old theme of the battle between thanatos and eros as it manifests itself in modern society. Heikens, with her playful yet forceful imagery holds up a mirror to us all.
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