April 29th, 2011
Theresia Agustina Sitompul, Hi bird, please send my greeting to kiki, 2010, polyester
Arthur Tress, Boy in Mickey Mouse Hat, 1968 (negative date), vinage gelatin silver print
Sitompul’s odd squishy androgynous pudding child struck me right away. There’s something simultaneously comforting and alien in this little effigy’s posture and contours. Only the head is detailed — beatific & heavenward like a little deity — suggesting some kind of larval being not yet ripened into full body. And the little birds come to encourage the process, comforted perhaps by the magical creature’s softness.
I thought that the Sitompul paired well — if not too contrasty? — with the disturbing Tress photo. A half-buried mickeymouse-eared child wears a pained and sleepy expression. We’re not sure if he’s playing some kind of beachside hide and go seek, is hiding out from parents and has fallen asleep in the sun, has been bullied and buried by older siblings, or worse still, has died and lies fallen in rubble. We watch and hope he’s just hiding out and playing hooky, but the lack of context keeps us guessing: the mickey cap obscures his forehead (and by extension possible emotional cues in his brow); the colorlessness obscures possible bruising or skin tone clues which might tell us more about the boy’s condition; the additional lack of color in his surroundings makes it hard to guess whether we’re looking at sand or dirt; whether it’s morning or mid-day. It’s a painful, powerful, striking piece that, in its lack of setting & visual triggers, forces us to construct a backstory that we struggle to keep buoyant.
Sitompul’s works were kind of hard to track down, but more can be found here (just a Google image search).
Please find more of Tress’ photography here at his site.
All writing © copyright C. Way / Snailcrow.com 2011