Tim Hawkinson
How important is explanation to the understanding of a work of art? Should knowledge of the working method be necessary to appreciate the piece? If representative figures are employed as generic "man", is it any more than an amusement - or a diversion - to learn that they are modeled after the artist's own body? These and other related questions surface in response to this accomplished and good-natured exhibition.

above: PENTECOST, 1999
Polyurethane, foam, sonotubes, mechanical components. Variable dimensions.

According to the artist, the twelve figures in this piece were derived from a previous piece: a bath-generated contour self portrait created by laying in a bathtub that was filling slowly with black paint. The artist was photographed from above every ten seconds as the paint crept up and over the diminishing islands of skin. "Superimposing these images, I developed a contoured pattern of my body. Each of these figures taps with a different part of its body on the branches of the tree. The rythmic patterns are derived from popular melodies. The title refers to the historical Jewish holiday on which the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ received the Holy Spirit and were able to speak in different languages." -TH

On the gallery wall one finds a version of this explanation. But first, the sound made by the body parts striking their respective drums is heard. Nose, toe, finger, penis, ear...tap out a delightful percussive music; The figures communicate, collaborate, speak in 'tongues'. A sweeping and positive metaphor is established of the human community, our tree of life. Learning from the explanation that each figure is in fact a representation of the artist was at first amusing, then admirable for its ingenuity, then questionable as a conceit. If the point of Pentecost is 'here I am as the apostles talking to myself', the generosity so welcome in the message is greatly diminished. And, probably, that's not the intention. For the time being, let's assume that communication is the goal behind the posted explanations, and the Self is just being insistent.

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