Pathetic and Pitiful
Pathetic, 2014, embossed aluminum, wood, found objects, electric neck massager. 7 ft. x 5 ft. x 4 ft.
Somewhere between desultory and optimistically attentive, these two concoctions of
failed past work and collected materials can be mobilized for migration by their painfully
undersized wheels. The juxtaposition of culturally borrowed low-brow gender references
with personal work history seems in a state of flux, unaware that they may become
dislodged at any moment. Like the architecture of rural Mexico, where I have traveled for
thirty years, it is difficult to know if these are ruins or works in process.
As in my recent social practice work, Pathetic and Pitiful reference issues of migration,
labor and gender identity, but on a more personal level. Though theatrical, there is no
heroic stance here: no trophy to the triumphant woman artist and her lifetime of
achievements. Once the career monograph, the archival web site and the university
teaching are finished, only big piles of “stuff” remain. Mining 40 years of unfinished
works and collected materials, my studio has become an archeological site. I’ve set out
to re-purpose the sluggish build-up and undermine my old ways of doing things in the
process. I need to stir things up.
Rudely rotating knobs (remnants of an old neck massager) project from two holes in
Pathetic’s polka dot black wall. Pitiful’s barely open door reveals two spotlighted
crocheted doilies mimicking the form of a white snowflake like metal form on the floor
outside. The electricity is still on. Yes, there must be life - but things seem to be slowly
falling apart. With both the absurd humor and the tragedy of a silent film, we laugh at
someone else’s fragile attachment to the physical and emotional status quo. Some of us
keep our equilibrium better than others when looking down the abyss.
Copyright © 2009 - Jane Gilmor - All Rights Reserved