What the Material Knows | S c u l – 2 1 0

Reference

Material, testing & research

  • 350 condoms
  • 775 ml white glue
  • 1 polycarbonate sheet (4′ x 4′)
  • 1 black ink permanent marker
  • Nylon string
  • 9 steel/zinc screw eyes
  • 1 artificial grass floor mat

Shedding Antlers

Themes & ideas

  • Loss of sex or intimacy as a measure of time under covid-19 confinement. 
  • The pandemic acts as a bottleneck for pleasure and bodily functions. We can no longer express our bodies: Dancing, singing, talking, kissing, coughing, touching…
  • The expiration date of unused condoms transforms them. They are no longer just utilitarian objects of abjection: A used condom as a signifier of death, a second rejected skin. We long to touch them before they too pass away. They are token reminders of what we are losing as time goes by. We miss their material symbolism in our lives even if abject. Their silent presence taunt us. 
  • Not unlike the aids pandemic of the 80ies, casual sex, now, is an increasingly risky activity. Condoms no longer protect us from death. Their inadequacy makes them less abject. Like us, they seem unfit for business. Their newly found inadequacy and familiarity makes them reassuring to the touch especially when filled with down or a viscous liquid. It mimics the experience of touching another human body.  
  • The synthetic grass, the plastics sheets represents the planes of numbing repetition, of the nothingness that we are experiencing. We are stuck in the determined purgatory of the golden ratio.

What the condom knows

  • The elasticity, flexibility and oiliness of latex condoms help translate the signifier into new meanings. It can be an object of abjection but it is not confined by it. 
  • Its intended purpose and specifications can be diverted to create new shapes. Children use condoms to create soccer balls when sport equipment is unavailable.
  • In this installation, I attempted to transform the object into a marker of the passing of time, not unlike sand in an hour glass or the yellowing of leaves on a tree. I’m hoping the condoms acquire some poetic expressions without renouncing to the abjection they inspire. 

Does it work?

  • More condoms would be necessary for the installation to work in the dimensions I chose. The size overwhelms the limited number of condoms.
  • More time and testing would be necessary to create more believable or realistic gestures and shapes. 
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