[First published by
Art As Authority, San Diego (Artasauthority.com), November 29th, 2008]
La poésie ne s’impose plus, elle s’expose.
– Paul Celan
In the corner of the gallery sits a small blue object, like an egg. Its blueness seems concentrated in the white noise of the shabby corner, small and dense, tight and aloof. Looking closer, something protrudes from discreet folds in the split surface: a hand, a cartoonish call for help. It’s a temperature-sensitive gel suspended in puckered plastic, a soother for teething infants. The little fingers seem to invite us into the surface of the sculpture but it’s a pacifier (a “dummy”). Suddenly surrogate, it reorders the terms of the contract: we grip; it becomes part of the mouth.
Sandra Doore’s work depends on equilibrium, of hot and cold or my space and your touch. Compulsion (title of three of the works in this exhibition) is after all a desire to augment and adjust, in the name of achieving the grace of the initial, virgin context: the compulsively cleaned, trimmed, brushed, filed, locked, polished or tied. The Compulsion pieces protrude from the wall in a row, the size of a petite fist or breast, streamlined but soft. Through tubes (the transparent handles of soap-storing scrub-brushes) bra straps wend their way, in weightless, sensual suspirations of corporality and control. Lingerie also fulfills this function on the floor version of Paradox of the Absurd: an ornamental constraint, it can’t commute the mass that extends from it. Like the fluffy synthetic band of Venus in Furs, it invites touch while defining the borderland where surface slips into formlessness, unknowable becoming unthinkable.
What can or can’t be thought of is part of what Paradox provokes. Teething toys, lingerie, kitchen utensils or fold- away furniture, they offer the signifiers of domesticity without the relief of interface, creating a Trap or object lesson out of familiarity. Body image occurs as part-object, from which we cannot possibly assemble a whole, (a sexual organ, a self, a mother, a family household) or a cancerous mass whose growth defies any internal economy. Their rounded edges recall the amphibious lines of contemporary consumer goods from SUV’s to cell phones, designed to insinuate themselves into habits’ niches. Poreless, they seem to emerge from a virtual space, as in the very narrow gap between sorted and unsorted recognition at the mirror, the split-second gap in which we decide whose side we’re on.
Beyond provocation and protuberance however, the ungainly balancing act of the pieces, their ultimate co-dependence, wins out. Experienced in the round, the objects become funny as well as unbearably candid, sensible as well as demanding. Their utensil-armatures assert themselves as a structure of foreplay, their cruelty the necessary discipline for a therapeutic confrontation. Over time, it becomes apparent why Doore still considers herself involved in an extension of the dialogues of painting: surfaces and touches that defer and deflect, forms that role-play interchangeable scenarios of illusion and material cause, craft as the desire to arrest a body’s limitless flux, a language that projects its vulnerabilities in order to expose our own.