The pictures above are from an animation I created from a pool I made in my studio entitled Body as Pool.
I made a self portrait in the following manner. It filled almost the entirety of my studio. The pool was made of vegetable oil and oil paint and acrylic paint and water. First, I kneaded clay; then I drew the outline of a image of myself with the clay into a trough (a blue plastic drop cloth painted in black rubber); and then I poured the liquids into the image. I made the self portrait large but it grew even larger and more claustrophobic in the space because of the way it spilled everywhere and required more and more materials—as if to feed it. Clods of clay and muddy drips clung everywhere. After I made the image, I worked to deconstruct it manually, by puncturing the clay walls. This ripping let liquid penetrate the form, but the liquid would also erupt on its own accord without my influence. The liquid not only erupted unexpectedly and uncontrollably, but it would evaporate and disappear over longer periods of time.
When I was working on this project, I saw a million ways that everything was about to “go wrong,” over and over. And I struggled against (and with) these ruptures, breakages, and spills. I imagined the box bursting at the seams under the immense weight of the liquid. I imagined the ladders and overhead structure overtop of it crashing down into at any moment. I saw the ladders shake.
I imagined the overhead structure I created to hold the camera falling into the trough.
I imagined that the box, which was already under so much pressure from the weight of liquid, bursting, and the liquid pouring out all over the space, seeping through the doors, through the windows, through the floor....
I heard my phone buzz and was able to find it in the rubble and had three missed calls. I called back. It was news from the person in the studio beneath me that the tarp I created to hold the liquid had a leak and the liquid was starting to come into his studio. One of my fears had come true. What did this mean? I questioned whether the entire endeavor needed to be scrapped.
More thoughts entered my mind. When was the next building inspection? I imagined the building inspectors bursting through my door and throwing me away. Al told me that one of building inspectors tried to do that recently and that he could barely stop them.
When I built it, I knew it was an object that shouldn’t exist in this space. It’s very existence wasn’t allowed. No pools indoors.
A fairly straightforward rule.
A pool in a space is an object that no one wants to be there. It would be under constant threat of extinction. I knew during its creation that I was building a object that would be threatened, but I did it anyway. It was almost an invitation to be forced to destroy . A provocation. And it was so large and forceful in its presence. I couldn’t very well hide it if someone entered the room. Maybe I could throw a blanket over it? it was an object that shouldn’t exist; that wasn’t allowed to exist; if seen, would be destroyed;I would be unable to stop them. When was the last building inspection? I couldn’t order my thoughts in order to recall.
Suddenly, the overhead structure holding the camera fell down into the piece, but I caught it before it could destroy everything.
I continued forward, but couldn’t stop imagining and replaying the overhead structure falling into the trough. Many scenarios played in my head repeatedly and uncontrollably.
It seemed its destruction was inevitable by my own initiative and numerous outside forces. It wasn’t a question of if it would be destroyed, but when and by what cause.... It occurred to me that the forces weren’t truly “outside” if I initiated them....
It felt to be an object that no one wanted to exist except me and even I was conflicted about its right to exist and whether I wanted it to. I felt an immense weight of many factors: the internal fragility of its material construction and qualities (the water seemed to be evaporating and falling into pieces before my very eyes, faster and faster), the impossibility of making this thing exist because of how much it stole from me financially to create (it was coming to a point when I had nothing left to give), the knowledge that this object wasn’t allowed to exist by the RISD Student Code of Conduct, the leaning rickety construct literally hanging over my head... The multitude of threats swarmed like an invisible/visible cloud around me and my object and I was both a coconspirator with the threats and the final protector against them all.
I felt a growing hatred for it, but, simultaneously, my anxiety and fear for its ability to survive under such fraught circumstances drove me forward and forward and I had to move more and more quickly to save it....
In some moments, I felt comfort in my process I had created for it..The images I created in the pool imagined destruction and dissolution that was already impending in reality for the object. The pool became a pool of contemplation and solace at some times and I was able to get lost in the repetition. I punctured the clay walls and the liquid from the outside penetrated. The liquid penetrated my body image and also erupted on its own accord. The image inside the object imagined the forthcoming and inevitable disappearance of the object.