Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Missionary, 2 September – 7 October 2023

Sidsel Meineche Hansen’s interest in metalworking and casting lies
beyond the material processes that she employs, incorporates, and
sometimes makes explicit reference to in her practice. The utilitarian
objects, anthropomorphized sex toys and religious figurines that are
the impetus for several of Hansen’s artworks often refer to the
physiological effects and sexual drives that manifest through labor
and production. As such, these works often fall into two camps:
individually, handmade pieces such as her recently steel-forged and
bronze wax cast series Hook (2023) based on designs of rudimentary
meat hooks, while her remake of moulds used in both industrial and
artisanal casting are emblematic of the mass-produced reproduction of

Visible across all her work, however, is a desire to pull into focus
the surrounding context in which things are made and how they are
used. This is notable in two short films Maintenancer (2018) and Baby
(2023) made together with documentary filmmaker Therese
Henningsen. Maintenancer is filmed in Bordoll, a German sex doll
brothel, and documents the routine of a cleaner responsible for their
upkeep; Baby Jesus follows the daily lives of members of the Little
Sisters of Jesus, a small community of nuns in the East of England,
including one sister who makes decorative figures of baby Jesus. While
worlds apart, these works both circle around symbolic objects of
transaction and spiritual devotion, attributes which Hansen likens to
her own contemporary secular art practice.

Like Maybrey Foundry (2017), a 360 degree pan of a foundry in which
Hansen wax cast an earlier series, Hollow Eyed (2017), Maintenancer
and Baby Jesus also contextualize accompanying sculptural pieces, each
based on moulds. In last year’s exhibition The Milk of Dreams at the
Venice Biennial, Maintenancer was shown alongside Daddy Mould (2018),
a fiberglass mould of a sex doll that the artist reverse-engineered by
casting its original form to create its negative. Whereas a readymade
appropriates a preexisting object’s commodity status, Daddy Mould
points to the value of product design in a changing economy of sex
work geared towards standardization. Hansen swaps the parental
assignment from the ‘mothermould’, a commonly used term in commercial
mouldmaking with the patriarch by way of its title’s implied
psychosexual relationship.

Non-reproductive parenting of another kind also underlies Baby Mould
(2023), for which Hansen recast an intricate, fifteen-part terracotta
mould used to make one of the Little Sisters of Jesus’ figurines. In
the film, a sister speaks of living a ‘spiritual childhood’ in which
God is parent. As well as the mould’s already womb-like resemblance
and reproductive function, the artist’s specific material use of glass
to remake it brings about a further association with the assisted
fertility procedure In Vitro Fertilization (in vitro is Latin for ‘in
glass’ and refers to medical procedures that take place outside of the
body). Baby Mould conflates the removal of sexual intercourse in
biological reproduction with the virgin birth of Jesus. Both Daddy
and Baby Mould strip the mould of its reproductive function and
render it useless as an art object that craves ownership instead.

Saim Demircan

Missionary by Sidsel Meineche Hansen, is a two part exhibition including new works by the artist, developed in partnership between Édouard Montassut, Paris and Company, New York.

Baby Jesus, 2023
Digital video with sound, 15:16 min.

Home vs owner (corner), 2023
Bricks, mortar
Variable dimensions

Hook 1, 2023
Steel, forged
21 x 17.4 x 0.6 cm

Hook 2, 2023
Steel, forged
20.5 x 18 x 0.6 cm

Hook 3, 2023
Steel, forged
21 x 18.5 x 0.6 cm

Hook 4, 2023
Steel, forged
20 x 16.5 x 0.6 cm

Hook 8, 2023
Bronze, investment cast
107 x 85 x 2 cm

Hook 9, 2023
Bronze, investment cast
71 x 54 x 2 cm

Hook 10, 2023
Bronze, investment cast
74 x 56.5 x 2 cm