Sarah Lucas, Au Naturel, 1994
Having seen quite a bit of work made from existing objects recently and having been reminded about Au Naturel by seeing Tracey Emin’s Dead Sea in her exhibition at Turner Contemporary, which I wrote about here a while ago, I find myself wondering why it’s taken me this long to write about Sarah Lucas’s work.
Essentially, Au Naturel is a very simple sculpture of a man and woman in bed, he represented by two oranges and a cucumber, she by a bucket and a pair of melons. What makes this work for me is that the visual joke of the assemblage triggers thoughts about language and the slang terms used for body parts. In particular, with works like this, Lucas draws attention to the derogatory way women’s bodies are often described colloquially.
Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab, 1992
In Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab, Lucas makes the terminology explicit in the title as well as the work and uses a propped up photograph of the table top to make the face that completes the female form. Thus the woman is seen only in terms of breasts and vagina, an anonymous headless form who is, literally, part of the furniture.
These aren’t works that offer any great cultural revelations but in using a visual humour to draw attention to the way in which we often overlook the casual sexism implied by the use of such terms. And, for me at least, that’s enough. There are other works by Lucas – both sculptural and photographic – that I enjoy in different ways but the simplicity of works such as Au Naturel and Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab is perhaps particularly pleasing.