Hypatia Project

2019 - 2021
Ceramics, slip casting
Developed during studies at Shenkar Collage, Professor - Ravit Lezer
~ Milan Design Week 2021 ~
~ Paris Design Week 2020 ~

The Hypatia Project was born out of questions of  the representation of the female body and sexuality and questions about the role of the designer in society. I asked 100 women, aged 19 to 76, questions about nudity, pain, pleasure, looking at their own body and intimate experiences with another person. From the sequence of answers from each woman I created a ceramic vase, using modular molds. Each “slice” of the vase has a color, shape and size representing one of the answers, creating a personal and unique vase for each woman who participated in the project. 

 

The vases hold “a secret”. They do not give out all their content, thus keeping their owners’ privacy. They tell a story which is hard to tell in a more direct way because it's regarded by society as negligible, too intimate, too difficult or too personal.  The vases of The Hypatia Project may be classified as objects of communication and culture. They produce a platform for discussion for areas in our soul that we do not tend to uncover, areas which may carry with them failure, or imperfection. The variances of the objects accentuate and celebrate the complexity to the collective female narrative.

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The objects in the project vary according to the time the woman answered the questionnaire and the place she was in with herself and her body at that moment. The objects are not fixed because they “measure” data that is not stable. This mutability allows each woman to create a vase that is personal and there is almost no other like it, as there are tens of thousands of possible variations. The vase then becomes a kind of “souvenir” from each woman to herself.

I started the project with a multitude of questions. One of my most important insights was that questions could be used as working material. The questionnaire is an encounter between a designer and a user. I, the designer, collected information and formulated rules about how it should be presented. Each woman “cast” her personality into it and out of many different and separate parts, one whole object came into being.  

At the end of the process, the vases were given to the women who participated in the project. I wanted to document the first encounter of the women and her vase in her home where she feels comfortable. The questions the vase holds come back home in a different form that is personal to the participant.

 

I chose to work with clay as it used throughout history to represent the feminine body and erotic scenes. I considered amphorae which contained liquids and stood at the center of a room. Those vessels were too heavy to move, and whoever wanted to drink from them, had to make his way to them. I liked the idea of a big, heavy vase which occupies a lot of space, in the same way I would like women to occupy a larger space in society.   

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The always changing object allows every woman to change and evolve

Animation : Hila Keinan

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All the participants in the Hypatia Project

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Putting the mold together

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The object that comes out is whole, although it was made from different mold parts

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Photography : Ori Shifrin Anavi