Mediated Sculpture, by James Cook


Ascension / Descension

Bronze, wood, steel, cast iron, DVD player, speakers, LCD monitor, video recording

92″ × 32″ × 32″

Years ago I visited a slaughterhouse. After men with knives separated most of a steer from its hide, a wench with hook methodically pulled the animal up from the floor. At a certain point, quite unexpectedly, the hide ripped away from the carcass, which slapped down onto the concrete. The separation between the hide and the body was for me a searing moment. The implications regarding our own transition at death—including ubiquitous systems offering comfort and cosmologic accountability and our general aversion to the ideas of death--were latent in this moment of abrupt separation.

The sculpture has a strong verticality, a feeling of ascendancy. Two forelegs of a horse hover above a waterless font on a porcelain mount, all of which is fixed to a simple wooden box. The two legs are filled with hollow reed shafts, running out from the hooves below, and out from the top flanks of each leg. A small opening on the top of the box reveals a video depicting the flaying of a horse and the subsequent wrenching of hide from carcass.

Main view of the sculpture
Detail view of the sculpture
Detail view of the sculpture