Votive Figure | Marta Zgierska

In the modern world, Beauty is god. A deity that requires frequent sacrifice. I make votive wax figures to beseech the deity to make me beautiful. By covering my own body in a wax shell, I myself become a votive figure. I make a sacrifice of my body to this new god.

The color on the wax is not decorative in itself, it is driven by the beauty products used to decorate the body, a representation of the cult of beauty. The trace of lipstick, shining through the waxen layer, marks the point of contact between the living body and the shell. A technological disposition creeping into delicate, pleasant images.

The beauty of the body has become religion, and its cult, in a paradoxical twist, spreads best through virtual reality, gaining millions of followers in the process. For many, the depiction of appealing, desirable body becomes the only pursuit, a way of life, a stepping stone to a life of fame and fortune. The body and its beauty have become commodities that can be monetized to an unprecedented extent. And inexorably, we ourselves have become a part of that particular reality, a reality that can no longer be changed, even by a mass shift in consciousness.

As an organic medium beeswax has the unique ability to simulate the look, touch, and feel of human flesh. From earliest times, artists and craftspeople took advantage of these qualities to create lifelike reproductions of the human body as objects for devotion, commemoration, scientific study, entertainment, and art. A "votive" or "ex-voto" was an offering given in fulfillment of a vow or to ask for healing or protection. Votive offerings were being placed within places of worship, at shrines or churches, to gain favour or give thanks. They could take the form of modeled reproductions of ill body parts or organs, often the wax casts commemorated spiritual help with a particular issue ‚Äď failing eyesight, fertility, arthritic limbs. By the Middle Ages Christian symbolism and the production of votive images that supported the rituals of the Christian church became so common that it created an industry. The figures, limbs, and organs that line the walls of modern Catholic churches and hang in other sacred places throughout the contemporary world, are proof that humans have long enacted their personal relationships to divinity with reference to their own fragile bodies.