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Untitled
1985
Plaster, wood, wire, steel and enamel
Dimensions: Right: 73 x 67.5 x 86 cm Left: 69.5 x 67.5 x 82.5 cm
Reference: ACF0028
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This piece from 1985 is part of a set of works which launched Robert Gober on the international scene. It is a series of sculptures whose common denominator is the use of the image and form (altered by the artist) of sinks. Before focusing on the construction of these strange plaster artefacts, since the early eighties Gober had done different works, also in plaster, with various recognisable motifs: a church, a man squatting, a dog with its legs in the air, a snail. Sinks are functional items that represent the importance of hygiene in capitalist society. But Gober turns those objects of industrial design and modern plumbing into useless artefacts. In the case of this piece, there are two basins of different sizes, depths and capacities arranged on the wall at different heights. Both have two holes in the upper part, suggesting absent taps through which the water would presumably flow. The difference in height between the two basins provides a visual rise and fall which accentuates the strangeness of those untainted objects. A strangeness which is even deeper in other, similar pieces, in which Gober plays with different forms: from the ones that clearly allude to urinals to others in which the sinks are transformed into wash-basins or even gravestones, for example in Two Partially Buried Sinks (1986-87), by way of others whose titles are not devoid of a touch of humour, such as The Scary Sink and The Silly Sink, both from 1985. But why this passion for these devices? Hand-made and clearly anthropomorphic in structure, the works refer back not only to Marcel Duchamp and his famous urinal, Fontaine, from 1917 -of which it has been said, mistakenly in my opinion, that Gober concocted a double or a simulacrum-, but in particular urinals: those toilet spaces where the evacuation of bodily fluids is an excuse for sexual exchange between men. Those works would lead Gober to later ones centred on the image of the drain (for example, Drain, 1989) and the idea of the waste and illness that lie in ambush for the body. We are therefore looking at an issue which is taboo in our society: the expulsion of miasmas and the revulsion they arouse.

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