slump

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Slump

Plywood, nails, plaster

 

Remember that episode of Magic School Bus where that batty woman Mrs. Frizzle shrunk the whole class and took them on a field trip down Ralph’s digestive system? I was always fascinated by that episode, yet in some ways disgusted. Despite the creepiness of having a small vehicle travelling at a healthy pace towards your rectum, I appreciated how the episode gave us a closer look into our own human bodies. Slump is an organic form in the way that it resembles some kind of organ through its ambiguously curved projections and flesh-like color. It is built to resemble an oversize medical model, similar to the ones found in the waiting rooms of dermatologists, gynocologists, and gastrointestinologists. In fact, when I was a toddler, I used to play with the medical models of kidneys and bladders at my mom’s urology clinic, which may help to explain why I felt inclined to make this sculpture so big. After all, a bladder is quite large relative to the hands of a 6 or 7 year old.

The outward projections on the piece seem to read like the villi inside lungs, intestines, or even internal growths of some sort. However, this piece can also be viewed as an organism itself, being capable of mobility and feeling. The large scale of this sculpture anthropopmorphize it, inviting the viewer to touch it or even climb it. In fact, a human could easily maneuver into the projections and nestle him or herself into the rounded polyps in fetal position, transforming the piece into some kind of comforting intrauterine wall. Despite its large towering size, Slump is nonthreatening, for its protrusions, although relatively pointed, are dull, hanging flaccid as opposed to projecting outward or upward. This creates a feeling of relaxation, for the creature or organ appears to be resting against the wall in a docile resignation.

However, it is arguable that Slump appears to be diseased or dying. Like all organic life, Slump is ephemeral, and with illness or enough time, will deteriorate. The rounded glob sitting on the base resembles chunk of festering flesh that has fallen from one of the projections, and the entire form appears to be oozing downward, giving no resistance to downward gravitational pull. Slump is rotting. And it is in this reading that the title Slump can be interpreted as the last action a living organism makes before it dies, the exhalation as a “final breath”. It has given up, and is allowing entropy to take its course, pulling its elements to the ground and eventually collapsing into an ambiguous, semi-liquid heap on the floor.

When I envisioned Slump, I thought of comfort and humor. What made the piece somewhat ludicrous to me was its size and its resemblance to an udder. Although the piece gives off an eerily inviting sense, it also creates uneasiness in the viewer because it may be read as “phallicly aggressive” in the multiplicity of the rounded projections, similar to the repetitive projections used by Yayoi Kusama. However, mine are not nearly as numerous. And despite their outward projection, they hang limp, as to give the piece a feeling of inertness or sluggishness, further enhanced by the use of plaster, which gives wear and heaviness to the sculpture, as if we froze it in its moment of downward deterioration. Additionally, plaster as a medium allows it to resemble networks of nerves or veins, for when it dries, it leaves behind small ravines and wrinkles that once dyed pink, give the piece more fleshlike qualities. The viewer is meant to approach the sculpture timidly, with much curiousity. Slump is cut to resemble a doorway, but there is no way through, and you are obstructed from entrance by the drooping polyps. Is it a creature? Is it a section of flesh? Are the mounds functional, or is the thing diseased? I specifically wanted to leave the shapes ambiguous, and I am leaving it up for the viewer to decide, to allow them to explore what their mind conjures up.

 

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