Products and Design

A Leg and Two Tusks: Viktoria Modesta, Prosthetics, and Performance Art

Viktoria Modesta is a model, musician, and self-described “bionic pop artist.” Born in Latvia, Modesta suffered a leg injury at birth and decided to have her left leg amputated below the knee in 2007. For the past several years, she has made prosthetics a central part of her performance art. Here’s “Prototype,” a groundbreaking music video she shot with the BBC’s Channel 4 that ends with a dance on a pointed prosthetic leg:


Modesta has found a regular creative partner in Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht, who plays at the intersection of fashion and technology and shows her work at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, the MAK Museum in Vienna, and a solo show called “Robotic Couture” at Tetem, an exhibition hall in Enschede, the Netherlands. (We wrote about “Robotic Couture” last month.)

This video from last year shows how Wipprecht created a custom prosthetic for Modesta:

Now Modesta, Wipprecht, and a pair of architects from Monad Studio in Miami have created Sonifica, a set of prosthetics that are not only beautiful, but also meaningful and provocative extensions of a musical performance. In addition to a prosthetic leg, the team designed a bodice with two protruding tusks that can be used to modulate sounds, almost like a pair of theremins. “The tusks create a different silhouette,” Modesta said in a recent interview. “It gives you a more animalistic skeleton, but also has almost a sexual addition to the body.”

Modesta presented Sonifica at Art Basel Miami. The collaboration was sponsored by Autodesk, which produced this video about the process. “You’ve got science and art mixing in such and intense way, and you don’t know where it’s going to go,” Modesta says in the video.

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