Benzenberg, Rebekka

Fur: even pre-human hominins wore them, and it’s survived as a status symbol since the beginning of recorded history. During the 19th century, fur farming exploded exponentially; though by the 21st, many clothing manufacturers stopped using furs entirely as a result of animal-rights activism. Frozen in transparent polyester resin, these fur squares by Rebekka Benzenberg seem like a time capsule of a once fabulous, now outmoded material. Benzenberg salvages her furs from flea markets or friend’s closets, then removes the inner lining and bleaches them before casting. A simple enough chemical gesture, bleaching evokes the industrialisation of feminine beauty, or at least beauty products. Somewhat more ambivalently, it also marks her own position as a white European artist upcycling old luxury goods which were manufactured elsewhere. Meanwhile, the exposed backsides of the fur tiles reveal an array of stitches, stamps, and seamstresses’ notes that testify to the countless hours of work—often done by “third-world” women—necessary to produce the look of effortless elegance. 

Stanton Taylor