Balema recognizes that the morbid palette and organic texture of the work might strike nerves. “The color comes from the rusting of the steel,” she says. “All the pieces start out clear and then change and decay in their own pace and way. Sometimes they turn a beautiful orange, sometimes black, sometimes brown. I think, in this case, the color kind of repulses and attracts the viewer at the same time. There are a lot of people who like to pick on a scab.” In this way, the works feel anthropomorphic. Balema concedes that “the color and shape of the works have a strong bodily feeling. They also appear and are quite fragile. When people get sick, they become very aware of the fragility of their own bodies.”
As the works in “Cannibals” deteriorate and change, associations of physicality and mortality emerge, triggering empathy in her audience. The sculptures are, within their own life cycle, aging. When the exhibition ends, the artist drains the liquid from the clear sacks, but can replace it later—and the cycle renews.