We first met Mr. Kurt Ingerl on the occasion of the opening of an exhibition. The exhibited objects were not made by him, but by another artist. But Kurt Ingerl held a speech that evening. So we met him there and got to know a few other people whom we had already heard of, i.e. Christa Cebis, a textile artist and Edi Ertl, who helps Kurt with the organisation of exhibitions. During this first evening we made an appointment for the plaster cast. It should take place the following sunday. So, on sunday, we drove to Wiener Neustadt, a small town not far from Vienna, where Kurt Ingerl has his studio. Kurt Ingerl's friend and former student Walter K"olbl was there to help him. And my boyfriend helped, too. Many of Kurt Ingerl's former plaster sculptures show women wearing a corset, but nothing else. I didn't want to be 'immortalised' like that. I wanted to wear my corset under a stretch material, which Walter K"olbl was to bring along from Vienna. But as he had forgotten it there, we had to wait for about an hour; the time he needed to fetch it. While we waited, Kurt Ingerl showed us photos from other casts and from Ethel Granger (he went to see her once, shortly after her husband had died). This photo session was very interesting.
Kurt Ingerl has quite a number of photos that show people with piercings or other extreme things which we strongly disapprove of; we find them off-putting. This becomes more and more clear to us, the more photos of the kind we see. We don't want to have anything to do with those extreme practices!
When Walter K"olbl returned with the stretch material we could finally start our work. For me it was not really hard work, as it was my task to remain lying on the table and to possibly not move at all. First we prepared the table on which I should be placed afterwards. We put a plastic film on it and a pillow for my head. I put on the stretch material (it was close-fitting, had the form of a hose and covered me from the armpits to the legs).Then I climbed on the table and laid down on my back. It was cold in the room. As the sculptors wanted to produce a plaster negative of my front part only they padded the lower portion (that had contact with the table) with cellulose to prevent the plaster from covering too large a portion of my body; it would then have been difficult to lift the plaster form from my body once it had dried. Then they mixed plaster powder and water. I was told not to move, so I couldn't see all that was happening. I saw nothing but the ceiling and sometimes the head of my boyfriend or of one of the sculptors. But I heard them splashing with the plaster stuff. Then I noticed that they started to cover my legs with plaster. They went on up and covered my whole body (save the head) with plaster. This was beautifully warm; and it became even warmer, the longer I was covered with plaster. I found that pleasant, since I had been cold before. It wasn't hard for me to keep still, either, for I knew that I should be freed soon from my plaster cage. The only thing I found a bit hard was breathing. In the beginning the plaster was fluid, but after a short time I noticed how it hardened and restricted breathing a bit. But it was tolerable, I soon got used to it. After a few minutes I felt that the plaster came loose from the upper part of my ribcage and thus allowed me to breathe normally, but not very deep. Anyway, that was really not a problem.
When the plaster evenly covered my body they put metal bars all over it in order to stabilise the form. Then again, the bars were covered with plaster. After that we had to wait about ten minutes for the plaster to harden. They started to get away the plaster form. It was relatively easy for them. I had moved one of my toes at the time the plaster was still fluid, and so they had to break off a small piece of plaster. But that was not too bad. There was no other problem with the removal of the rest of the plaster form. Kurt Ingerl, looking at his work, said that it had turned out well. He said he would make a beautiful sculpture of it.
We decided to make one more plaster form, sculpting the other side of my body this time. We had a short break. Kurt said there was the tradition to clink glasses with each other between two plaster casts. So he fetched a bottle of German champagne from his fridge and four glasses and we drank to excellent plaster sculptures.
Then it was high time to continue. It went as good as the first time. Only at the end, when they lifted the plaster form, I had to sacrifice some hair that had got into the plaster. After that I went to have a shower. Unfortunately the corset had become a bit damp with the fluid plaster some of which had come through the stretch material and moistened the corset. So I couldn't put it on again after the shower. This was a pity, but necessary. It was essential now to dry the corset as fast as possible in order to prevent the busk and steels from rusting. So we dried it with a hair-dryer as soon as we arrived at home. But before that Kurt Ingerl invited us to have lunch with him. Or should I say dinner? It was late already. We had started with a delay of one hour and had worked for some hours, so that it was four o'clock in the afternoon! The men hadn't had lunch and I had even come without breakfast. Christa Cebis had advised me to do so; she said it had been her experience that one feels better in the plaster form with an empty stomach. I'm glad that I followed her advice as I think she was right; I said before that the plaster had a bit of a restricting effect when I talked about breathing. So we went to a restaurant in Wiener Neustadt, where Kurt Ingerl showed us some more photos and magazines. Some of these were very interesting, but almost all of the magazines were full of unusual practices like bondage, body piercing etc., which we very much dislike and which we keep our distance from.
In a few weeks time the plaster sculptures will be finished. Kurt Ingerl will send me photos of them. I'm anxiously awaiting them, but so far he still finished them. I'll keep you informed about new developments.
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