This week I saw this (above). It’s not some horrific DIY accident, it’s actually a sculpture by Robert Gober on display in the Tate Gallery in Liverpool. It’s a cast of the artist’s own leg, embedded with human hairs and dressed with a man’s shoe, sock, and trouser-leg. The hairs on the leg are so realistic it’s eerie.
The body fragment is meant to speak of absence, detachment and loss. The leg is installed as if emerging from the gallery wall, portraying an uneasy balance between interior and exterior. Apparently, Gober’s disembodied limbs and appendages imply a psychological fracture.
His work is related to domestic and familiar objects such as doors, sinks, and body parts, and has themes of nature, religion, and politics. The sculptures are meticulously hand-crafted, even when they appear to just be a recreation of a common sink. He has also made photographs, prints, and drawings. I read somewhere that the leg is difficult and unsettling because it’s difficult to figure out whether the object as alive or dead.