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Pinocchio House / Crooked Leg
1994
Video installation: two TV monitors, wood, a range of objects and video transferred to DVD (colour, sound)
Dimensions: 43' 52" Variable dimensions
Reference: ACF0083
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Pinocchio House - Crooked Leg is a highly complex piece which shows the intensity and plurality of Paul McCarthy's work, as well as the juxtaposition of elements and meanings that make up the body of his output. This is a hybrid, multiple, plural piece which packs various works into one: a filmed performance which is shown on various video monitors on the structure of the set he used to make it. In his first contact with the work, the spectator finds a wooden structure that forms a series of square tubes and a small room. The whole exterior is painted black, except for one wall of the room. However, this is not just a room; it is rather a house with a roof that has fallen down. On the outside walls there are various openings which allow a glimpse of the inside of a room. In the room there is a table, a chair and some tins of food resting on the vertical which is really the original floor, which shows that the house has indeed tipped over on one of its sides. The inside is dirty and there are scraps of leftover food. Beyond the wooden structure appears the figure of Pinocchio, with a long red nose, tucked up in bed. On the wooden tubes there are video monitors showing the performance, which was done to be filmed and not to be seen live. It begins with a man dressed as Pinocchio standing behind the table on the set, performing a series of actions: he paints a lamp; he tries to put a long piece of white felt into a tin of liquid chocolate; he repeatedly pokes his nose into a hole in the wall and a tin of ketchup; he takes some jars and bottles out of a trap-door in the floor and starts to make a noise with them -and obsessive, orderly rhythm; he puts his nose into a jar of mayonnaise; a double of Pinocchio appears and they fight; he sticks his nose into tins of chocolate, mayonnaise and ketchup; lastly, Pinocchio comes out of the house through one of the tubes, lugging all his objects in orderly fashion in a series of obsessive movements. Paul McCarthy, who is an adult, appears disguised as a childish character performing childish actions: playing with his food and his body, a juxtaposition with which the food and the movements take on scatological and sexual connotations (the ketchup is blood, the chocolate is faeces and the mayonnaise is sexual fluid). Thus in Pinocchio House - Crooked Leg he has created a nightmarish scene in which anxiety and repulsion are mixed, evoking our animal and natural unconscious. In his work McCarthy breaks social taboos and reflects on the symbolic violence implicit in a society dominated by the family and the mass media.

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