Isabella Benshimol Toro, “Omphalomancies”

“Omphalomancy I (protruding navel)”, sculpture, 2020.
Detail of “Omphalomancy I (protruding navel)”, sculpture, 2020.
“Omphalomancy II (big and deep)”, sculpture, 2020.
Detail of “Omphalomancy II (big and deep)”, sculpture, 2020.

Materials: old clothes, water clear polyester resin.

60cm x 30cm x 5cm
“Omphalomancy I”: 49cm x 8cm x 38cm
“Omphalomancy II”:
39cm x 11cm x 34cm

Learn more about Isabella Benshimol Toro at

Artist’s comment: Omphalomancies (protruding navel and big and deep) is an installation that consists of two sculptures posing on the floor, both made out of old personal sports clothes and water clear polyester resin. Its title, Omphalomancies surges from an antique method of divination meant to determine the future conceptions of new born babies, based on the shape and marks of their navel. Omphalomacies depict two types of navels, one big and deep and a protruding navel, acting both as windows into a seemingly collapsed bodily dichotomy (interior-exterior). This appears as the result of the domestic and intimate action of taking off one’s clothes and leaving them carelessly on the floor. A casual proposition to rethink the permeability and porosity of the materiality that we are made of, as our animated alliances with objects and layers that are part of us in our everyday domesticity. Starting from the base of the process of sweating as the “natural mechanism in our organism to regulate our corporal temperature.’’ I refer to the need to understand the importance of sweating and the reason why we tend to classify it as dirty or unpleasant with a strict correlation to the socio-economic realities and problematics in Venezuela and Latin America, in the realm of domesticity, class and order. Sweat belongs to an interstice between the visceral interiority and bodily exteriority that hold us, the skin. Affects and effects of our body and mind are overlapped and melted into a liquid pseudo transparent substance that we refer to as sweat. Nervous sweating, sexual sweating, anger sweating, labour sweating, anxiety sweating, exercise sweating, heat sweating or fear sweating are all part of an uncontrolled reaction that our body generates in order to survive, to flow, to get rid of toxins. I see sweating as a political action and reaction, something that expels a series of substances that belong to the interior of the body, to the exterior in an uncontrolled manner, leaving a trace in the absence of the body. A transparent feeling or affect that becomes visible within invisibility. Omphalomancies acts as a monument to invisibility, to sweat as the invisible notion of what some determine as dirt, as shame, as fear, it is a consequent rebellion towards cleanliness and apparent order. Omphalomancies is also a window towards new ways of seeing the inequalities and unequal futures in Venezuela that are melted into the feelings of unrest, anger and despair that surround its unbalanced, yet robust structures. The careless action of leaving sweaty clothes on the floor works as a rebellion, a way to break the structure of interior/exterior dichotomy in the body and the structure of a body in itself that wears the garments. At the same time it becomes an allusion to break the socio-cultural structures that are ingrained in a society that is ruled by liquids that are not exactly transparent nor unpleasant but very toxic.