‘Mesmerizing Flesh’: OCA Exhibits Tamara Kostianovsky


Heather Hopkins

“Mesmerizing Flesh” Exhibition at OCA (Photo by Heather Hopkins | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Heather Hopkins


Trigger Warning: This article contains themes relating to violence and gore.


World-renowned visual artist Tamara Kostianovsky worked in partnership with the Ogden Contemporary Arts space to put together the show “Mesmerizing Flesh.” In the show, the artist examines themes of violence, rebirth and consumerism through her unique fabric sculptures.

Actus Reus

When entering the open industrial space of the Ogden Contemporary Arts, viewers immediately encounter Kostianovsky’s imposing works. Hung from factory-style meat hooks are the artist’s sculptural replicas of cow carcasses. In her native country of Argentina, the butchering and consumption of bovine is so ubiquitous that seeing hanging flesh in shop windows is an occurrence on nearly every block. The brutality of these visuals becomes commonplace.

Works from her series “Actus Reus” hang displaying their naturalistic flesh tones and recall these butcher window scenes. While the works from a distance display verisimilitude, upon a closer examination viewers see that the “flesh” is made from fabric painstakingly stitched together. The artist has formed sutures where butchers would make cuts. Kostianovsky cannibalizes her personal wardrobe as well as sourcing women’s clothing from various areas. This connection to the feminine is a way in which the artist grapples with and displays the brutality that is committed against women globally, especially in Argentina.


Oscillating in the center of the gallery space are more carcass sculptures, only this time they do not carry such a resemblance to flesh. What was flesh and bone hued in “Actus Reus” works become the vibrant colors of Central America’s flora and fauna. These works are from Kostianovsky’s “Tropical Abattoir” series. This series expands upon the ideas of the previous, morphing it into an art of hope.  The carcasses are transfigured from sights of slaughter into a vessel emitting new life.  Exotic birds and striking vegetation emerge from rib cages in a juxtaposition between violence and beauty.

“Mesmerizing Flesh” Exhibition at OCA (Courtesy of Heather Hopkins)

Different Inspirations

Having multiple angles (literally and figuratively) from which to view her pieces is universal in Kostianovsky’s body of work. The more the artist worked with fabric, the more she became interested in the mass consumerism of our world and the rampant issue of fast fashion.

The hooks that secure the works in the “Tropical Abattoir” series are connected to a track that moves the works with a carousel motor. This unique installation choice was created specifically for this show via a collaboration between the artist and OCA. The overhead rotating works can be seen from every angle, allowing for the intricate stitching and elaborate upholstery to be admired. Occasionally, the motorized mechanism jostles slightly. The swaying pieces are reminiscent of butchered animal parts on hooks that have been brushed by abruptly, causing an eerie lifelike quality to the now inanimate carcasses.

The distinctive installation simultaneously invokes the feeling of fast fashion factory assembly lines, as well as high fashion runways without letting violence and carnage completely escape your mind. This body of work offers ample opportunities for conjecture and exploration.


In the time it takes to listen to an episode of your favorite podcast, Salt Lake City residents can be north in Ogden viewing this spectacular show. OCA, directed by Venessa Castagnoli, shows that small cities in Utah can hang with the New York City art scene. “Mesmerizing Flesh” will be on view until April 16, 2023.


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