Through her contemporary, poetic imagery, Sophie Utikal investigates trans-generational wounds as they write themselves into bodies. Here, these wounds might heal; under the skin, the scar tissue gathers and grows. Utikal tells of experiences that continue to live on in bodies over many generations. She questions the origins of modes of behaving and follows the flow of the internal world guiding the body. How do bodies and feelings interact? What actions arise as a result?
In an intensive preoccupation with various forms of corporeality, Utikal connects her protagonists with herself. A common thread can be traced through life; something will always be passed on. The ambivalence of Utikal‘s drawings opens, for the viewer, a process of projection. Utikal works with Gloria E. Anzaldúa‘s method of autohistoria, beginning her series with her mother, Inirida, named after the Rio Inírida. An emblem for the flow of life, the river reaches Utikal and draws her on, filling her with life and shaping her form. An inner embrace with water – a medium through which the self is expressed, into which the self might fall and be carried.
Tears complete this cycle. “How can I catch my own tears?” Utikal asks. How to deal with feelings that are unfamiliar, even to the self? Where does vulnerability flow? “We have crossed borders, continents and oceans but still our bodies are occupied” – here, she points towards migrant experiences and the challenges these bring, which are passed on to following generations. Utikal compares herself to water; she can adapt herself to the needs of others like cool fluid. Underlying her care is the wish to belong, but this wish has borders – it is delimited by her own capacity for resilience.
Sophie Utikal investigates alienation from her own body in relation to the normativity of white bodies. She looks toward non-rational forms of knowledge. Her decolonial gaze unfolds, for the viewers, a world full of pain and healing. Strong stitches in textile and tender colours open perspectives on bodies and identity.