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Descriptive text for Robert Gober, The Subconscious Sink (1985), Walker Art Center.


Walker Art Center



Institution Walker Art Center
Robert Gober's fascination with domestic objects dates back to the early 1980s when he began to create sculptures based on beds, chairs, cribs, and sinks. Subconscious Sink contains the basic elements of a large old-fashioned sink Gober knew as a child. Mounted on the white gallery wall, the sink's gleaming plaster form almost appears to be materializing in front of our eyes, as if it's emerging from our own subconscious. However, it's clear at first glance that this is not an ordinary sink. Most notably, the back splashboard rises to an illogical height, splitting near the top into two eerily identical halves. Furthermore, where there should be faucets and plumbing apparatus, there are gaping holes, rendering the sink useless.

As implied by the title, Gober is addressing larger psychological issues through this familiar household fixture. For example, our inability to clean ourselves at this sink has been compared to the larger inability of our immune systems to eradicate deadly viruses such as AIDS from our bodies. The split splashboard is also rich with associations, implying a past division stemming from childhood or a discord in one's home environment.

Robert Gober explains his formalist approach to Subconscious Sink
"Most of my sculptures have been memories remade, recombined, and filtered through my current experiences. Looking back now at why I built sculptures of sinks, I can remember sinks that I knew as a child, a recurring dream of a roomful of sinks with water flowing through them, the fact that a friend was dying of AIDS. But when I was making them, my considerations were for the most part sculptural and formal ones."

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Source: Descriptive text for Robert Gober, The Subconscious Sink (1985), Walker Art Center.
Rights: Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009