In the little neighborhood known as Hayes Valley in San Francisco there is currently an installation hovering over the cafes, restaurants and shops. This statue, “Ecstasy,” was first displayed at the Burning Man festival in 2007 and was created by Karen Cusolito and Dan Das Mann. It is part of a larger installation called “Crude Awakening,” which depicts eight large metal figures surrounded by a wooden oil derrick.
What struck me about this statue is her femininity and masculinity. She has breasts, long hair and sinewy limbs. Yet she is very muscular. Standing next to her foot, I feel dwarfed and as I look closer, her wired frame is made of chains and old parts (rusted screws, bolts, even old brake pads). She is made out of industrial waste scraps. Scraps that, when seen from a distant or even up close give a sense of texture as if we were seeing this woman’s flesh (her insides, beyond the skin). The rust color is some how fleshy, meaty and vein-like. There’s a softness, but a harshness. A realness and a manufactured-ness. She is both human and machine. She’s a paradox and the way she juxtaposes humanity with the statuesque, garbage with beauty and rust with flesh makes me think that we can get more than what we expect if we look closer and reflect a little.
“Ecstasy” is in Hayes Valley until June 18, 2010.