S. Nicole Lane’s exhibition, Carved from Sausage, up at Sustain from March 2nd through March 31st, centers the body of the artist as both an object and an imperative within a malleable, shifting practice of survival. However, Lane’s notions of the body do not assert a latticed understanding of gendered oppression and resilience. Rather the framework of Lane’s show divorces itself from a binary notion of gender and presents the body as a fragile and fleshy site of contentious desire and rebellion. Lane finds use and humor in deconstructing the gender binary; a tendency indicated by the show’s title. Carved from Sausage is an oblique reference to the biblical assertion that women were created from men.
Similar to the show as a whole, Lane’s delightful biblical allusion is unassumingly sophisticated. While the phrase “carved from sausage” specifically refers to Genesis 2:21-22, NRSV, “he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman”, it also hints at the 2013 controversy in which religious scholar Ziony Zevit asserted in his book What Really Happened in the Garden of Eden? that the Hebrew word tsela (commonly translated as “rib”) most likely referred to one of Adam’s limbs. Zevit posited that the limb in question could be Adam’s penis and serve as an explanation for the absence of the baculum, or penis bone, in human males. While Zevit’s argument made little reverberation outside religious and biblical scholar communities, Lane utilizes Zevit’s thesis here with puckish inspiration as a means to subvert tired tropes and to tell their own tale.
All of Lane’s pieces are formed through their practice with latex. Globular, dripping, and draping, the pieces function both as referents to the human form and sculptural abstractions. Lane shapes this playful indeterminacy to highlight the fragility and grotesqueness of existing with/in a body; wherein people both shape themselves and are shaped by outside forces.
The piece Kaugummi (roughly translating to “chewing gum”) is made out of latex paint and rubber bands, the title, and materials both emphasizing the elasticity and malleability of the form. Though Lane doubles down on the literal nature of the title, in that the piece is also a shiny bubblegum pink, its pulpy corpulence brings to mind a body that is chewed, molded, excreted, and changed through experiences inside unfriendly space. It is at once malleable, soft, and tough; both an organ, a container, the artist, and piece of gum.
This interplay between subject and object is perhaps most pronounced in Resembling, or Whatever and Untitled (Acrylic Box with Assorted Pieces). While both pieces utilize organic material, specifically hair, in addition to the latex, the particular manner in which both collapse clear delineations between the signifiers of the titles and what is signified allows for a mode of seeing that prizes indeterminacy. In a sense, Lane’s distills the subject to a knotty, messy, base, and objecthood brings forth a crystalline ambiguity. Resembling, or Whatever exemplifies this as Lane both proposes and negates subjecthood in the title; the cascading pink folds of latex possess the potential to resemble something but the “whatever” shifts that resemblance to a fading memory, a nervous verbal parry, the avoidance of one’s own soft spots. In turn, Untitled categorizes these moments of indeterminacy in a manner similar to Paul Thek’s assemblage boxes. Amorphous delicacies sit neatly positioned in an acrylic box, calling to mind a bodily corpus, an anatomical chronology that’s also a history of objects. It is simultaneously a technical marvel and delightfully queasy.
Lane invites the audience to consider their relation to the title of the show, namely how they relate to the eponymous “sausage.” While sausage does refer to the gendered dynamic of the biblical parable, it is perhaps, more importantly, a lumpy, bloody, raw, delicate, sack of meat protected by a thin skin. With the implications of the nod to Adam and Eve assuaged through Lane’s deconstruction of gender and use of humor, the body’s fragility is similar to that of a sausage. Carved from Sausage is a reminder that fluidity, ruptures, and mess are radical.