Sunday, July 25, 2004


This photograph was on the front page of the Washington Post Arts section on Sunday. It's a life-sized self-portrait sculpture by American artist Tom Friedman. What really bugged me about this piece is that it's made of brightly colored construction paper. Here's a material that we place in our kindergarteners' backpacks for art projects that invariably return home to our refrigerator doors in the form of valentine's day cards and handprint art. Friedman perverts the construction paper medium by associating it with death, suicide, terrorism, and unintentionally, 9/11 (the piece was sculpted in 2000). Is he making a statement about the fragility of life, reducing human sculpture from iron, stone, or clay to something flimsy and fibrous, readily torn? Or is this just how he sees himself--insignificant, laughable?

I imagine Mr. Friedman would be satisfied by our stopping, looking, and asking the questions. His sculpture is on display at the Site Santa Fe Biennial 2004, titled "Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque." Some of the other exhibition highlights are here.

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