American, born 1954
In Robert Gober's enigmatic sculptural installations, fragmented body parts, household furniture, and clothing, among other disparate elements from domestic life, evoke notions of sexuality, politics, and religion. Gober initially captured critical attention in the early 1980s when he first exhibited a series of wall-mounted works whose handmade forms are modeled after vintage-style basins and finished to emulate the surface of porcelain—a motif that occupied him for nearly a decade.
The Inverted Sink—devoid of a drain or plumbing—has a strong Minimalist presence, which is seemingly at odds with the mundane household item on which it is based. Yet, such starkly elegant forms have come to embody aspects of gay identity and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Here, the sink simultaneously serves as a metaphor for cleansing and transformation as well as a surrogate for the human body, rendered ineffectual because of disease. By infusing the silhouette of an everyday object with beauty, mystery, psychological intensity, and a corporeal subtext, Gober succeeds in making the ordinary extraordinary.