Sep 16, 2011

PROFILE | Sandy Skoglund

Sandy Skoglund, Radioactive Cats, 1980 
Green cats, purple babies, and a room full of bacon. This is the type of peculiar imagery you can expect from the installations of Sandy Skoglund.

Skoglund, an American installation artist, and professor at Rutgers University, is most known for her installation, Radioactive Cats. Radioactive Cats, depicts a bizarre scene where numerous hand crafted clay cats strangely paw through an elderly couple’s colorless kitchen. It’s a mystery to the viewer whether these bright green cats belong to the couple, as they both seem quite calm while the cats crawl upon their furniture, or whether the cats have entered the kitchen with the intention of a feline invasion.

In an interview with Luca Panaro, Skoglund was questioned over her use of monochrome animal sculptures in her installations. Skoglund explained:
Since the eighties, I have been fascinated with interiors and invading these interiors with problems and interruptions usually by animals. The animal presence to me is the link between ourselves and the natural world. We look at a dog and the dog looks back at us. During that moment we know that we are not the only consciousness at work in the universe.
 In addition to Radioactive Cats, installations such as Revenge of the Goldfish, and Fox Games depict strangely colored animals “invading interiors” as well. But animals aren’t the only thing invading Skoglund’s installations. Her installations also include a variety of repetitive elements such as plates, spoons, hangers, socks, and strangely, babies.

Sandy Skoglund, Maybe Babies, 1983

The installations Babies at Paradise Pond and Maybe Babies are simultaneously disturbing, frightening, and comical.  The 1983 installation Maybe Babies shows a hoard of lavender colored, pudgy babies, found floating, crawling, and walking outside of an onlooker’s home. The space that surrounds the babies is black so it creates a strong contrast of color, much like Radioactive Cats. This color contrast, the unnatural positions, and the setting in which the babies are found exemplify Skoglund’s play on the idea of fictional situations in real life settings.

Skoglund’s website provides a chronological list of images taken from her installations that also point to a period in the late seventies where her main focus was creating art centered around common food items. Among these food items are vegetables such as carrots and peas, fruit, cookies, cheetos, french fries, and burgers. A particularly shocking installation entitled Body Limits depicts a room filled entirely with bacon. The room’s walls and floors are coated with bacon and it’s even built with its very own set of full scale bacon people. Skoglund did something very similar with aluminum foil at St. Cloud State University.

 In regards to her incorporation of food Skoglund said in the same interview, “I used the subject of food to create a common language. After all everyone eats.” She went on to say, “…human intervention with the appearance of food is a broad cultural phenomenon. The manipulation of food in terms of shape, color, and taste and so on has achieved highly unnatural results.”

Skoglund’s view on human intervention in the food industry draws strong parallels with her own works as they portray a variety of repetitive objects that have also been intervened with. Whether it be through the multiplication of their numbers, altering their natural color, or changing their placement in the natural world, Skoglund manipulates the elements of her installations to create highly fantastical and fictitious scenes.

-Andrea Kraus-Lozano


Contributor said...

I wish you had gone into a little more detail over why exactly she chooses the animals or objects of great numbers in these certain situations. I love it otherwise though!

- Erin Davis

Contributor said...

I enjoyed this blog entry immensely. It made me want to actually go and look at Skoglund's other work, which I did! I found it extremely interesting. I love the color contrasts that she uses!

-Lucretia Long

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