Alex Hoda, Schliere (Streak), 2012

alex hoda 2

This sculpture makes a meal of a piece of gum. It may be marble, but it was once a remnant piece of a habit-forming chew. And now it is the size of a torso.

Visitors may be struck at the muscularity, which marble will always suggest. There is a body trapped in here, perhaps a Michaelangelesque dying slave.

These sinews may be rock hard. But you may still want to chew over the results of this fleshy piece of work, at the risk of breaking a tooth.

The stone comes from the maestro’s onetime favourite quarry at Carrara in Tuscany. I was told it has been chiselled with high pressure water from a 3D map scaled to 0.1 of a micron.

Were the artist to use said technology to render a figure from myth, it might be horribly ernest. Gum reassures us that he is insouciant enough to make contemporary art.

But we can still admire the stone along with the concept. The veins and luminosity are just beautiful. You want to stroke it, but isn’t chewed gum as tactile as it is repellent.

This piece has been splatted on the wall, as if the classical world never happened. Certainly, machine technologies have cut all the traditional craftsmanship out of the equation.

Gum may seem too ephemeral for a lasting statement. But evidence suggests we have been chewing bark, etc, for 5,000 years: a pillar of civilisation. More ancient than the Ancient World.

Schliere (Streak) can be seen in Alex Hoda: D-Construction at Edel Assanti, London, until 26 October 2013.

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