20 January 2010

Head vs. Hand vs. Feet, 1996. Collage on 6' x 6' canvas.


  1. I notice that this is described as a homage to Manual Neri. And after reading Wikipedia, I find out in what sense this may be taken:

    He is noted for his life-size sculptures, which though clearly figurative in nature, are abstracted figures rather than realist representations. His sculptures often emphasize surface texture, and the surfaces of his sculptures are often, sanded, chipped, or painted to emphasize textures.

    It is in this context that I begin to understand the collage and its title. The figures are indeed very abstract and the emphasis seems to be on texture. The photographic cards are transformed into something else which creates a new whole: one form of visual representation becomes another, as with Neri’s transformation of sculpture into painting, painting into sculpture.

    The title reflects on this process of visual transformation. It gives an impression of a body divided against itself: Head vs. Hands vs. Feet. These parts of the body are where all the strengths of the body lie, where we exert our power. However, when they are fragmented in this way, contesting each other, they create an idea of misdirection and disorientation, theory vs. practice.

    Yet still, an image is produced out of the seeming disorder of practicality vs. thinking, abstraction vs. the concrete, something new. The conflict produces order.

    My general thoughts on the picture is that the numbers are quite interesting. There are 4 x 5 cards. 20 in total. The three items that we are focusing on are hands, feet and the head (5 things in all, 20 digits in total…) The cards are the hands and the feet combined (4 hands and feet make 20 digits).

    4, 5 and 3 as a combination is also interesting. These are the three typical sizes that illustrate the Pythagorean theorem:

    A hypotenuse is the longest side of a right triangle (Right-angled triangle in British English), the side opposite the right angle. The length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle can be found using the Pythagorean theorem, which states that the square of the length of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the lengths of the other two sides.

    A hypotenuse is literally ‘to extend under’ from the Ancient Greek - it’s like saying that even when we experience disunity and fragmentation, we can recreate harmony in the world and affirm our own power, that we can overcome. And I think this is not just a comment about the place of the individual in the world, but also the way that arguments, fighting and suchlike in ‘the social body’ can even form consensus and cohesion…

  2. I met Neri at an art opening in SF and nervously asked him why he painted (he also draws and paints) woman with no hands, feet or face and he said that those areas give too much away. I wanted to see what it would look like on the opposing side of this idea, thus: men, with only face, hands and feet.