by Tom Lee
Visitors to the Harvard Art Museums' current summer exhibition "Re-View" at the Sackler—comprising various objects from the Fogg, Busch Reisinger and Sackler collections—will undoubtedly be startled by an untitled mixed-media sculpture by Robert Gober, an artist whose penchant for mixing the mundane with the bizarre has earned him plenty of art world accolades and solo exhibitions and installations worldwide.
It's easy to see why: the piece, painstakingly crafted in plaster, beeswax, human hair, cotton, leather, aluminum pull tabs and enamel paint, depicts a sink that wouldn't be out of place in a 1930s kitchen—except that its faucets and drainpipe have been replaced by several stretched and disembodied doll-like legs, the feet shod in child's sandals and blue ankle socks. And the legs themselves look like fleshy plumbing—but are they protruding from the sink's recesses, or is the sink sucking them in?
Hard to say, and hard to know what to make of Gober's vision, which suggests a lingering dread of budding adolescent sexuality even as its rendering emanates purity and an obsessive way with craft. It's as if the sink has been scrubbed within an inch of its life...but an uncertain stain remains.
Have you visited the Sackler recently? Post your comments about Gober's work—and, since the artist has chosen not to name it, tell us what title you would choose.
The Arthur M. Sackler Museum is located at 485 Broadway, Cambridge; hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 10 am–5 pm. Special reduced summer admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors 65 and over, and $3 for college students with valid ID (through September 3). Free admission year-round for Harvard students and affiliates plus one guest; Cambridge Public Library cardholders; and on Saturdays, 10 am-noon, Massachusetts residents with valid ID. Information: 617.495.9400 or visit the museum's website.
[Caption: "Untitled," 1999-2010, by Robert Gober (American, born 1954), Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum]