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Collections The Subconscious Sink

Collections The Subconscious Sink

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Image
Courtesy Walker Art Center
Rights
© Robert Gober

Copyright

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Title
The Subconscious Sink
Artist
Robert Gober
Date
1985
Dimensions
overall 90 × 83.625 × 25.5 inches
Materials
plaster, wood, steel, wire, lath, paint
Location
Not on view

Object Details

Type
Sculpture
Accession Number
1985.396
Physical Description
semi-gloss paint on steel
Printer
N.A.
Credit Line
Clinton and Della Walker Acquisition Fund and Jerome Foundation Purchase Fund for Emerging Artists, 1985
Object Copyright
© Robert Gober

object label Robert Gober, Subconscious Sink (1985) Walker Art Center, 1999

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.–Robert Gober

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 the artist 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 is 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 identical halves. Furthermore, where there should be faucets and plumbing apparatus, there are gaping holes, rendering the sink useless.

As implied by the title and his own words, 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 diseases such as the AIDS virus 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.

Walker solo exhibition: Robert Gober: Sculpture + Drawing, 1999

Label text for Robert Gober, Subconscious Sink (1985), from the exhibition Art in Our Time: 1950 to the Present, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 5, 1999 to September 2, 2001.

Copyright 1999 Walker Art Center

object label Descriptive text for Robert Gober, The Subconscious Sink (1985), Walker Art Center. Walker Art Center, 1998

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.”

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

Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center