i think this is a train track, this
is a train track examines
traditionally female speech patterns and what Robin Lakoff describes as
“woman’s language.” In i
think this is a train track, this is a train track, a squashed, stuffed
foam and fabric cube sags under the weight of a sinuous and narrow rusted metal
train track that twists and turns, and then transforms from steel rails into
soft fabric. The cypress slats and
metal bolts that secure them to the rails are the only elements that remain
consistent through the transition from steel to fabric. The new soft muslin track moves more
freely, tying itself in knots and utilizing the freedom that the soft material
allows. The rigidity of the steel
becomes a knotted up track of foam and fabric, catching and tangling the
attentive viewer’s eye. With no clear direction, forward progress is repeatedly
halted, snarled, and reversed until the track finally crashes into the opposite
wall, a dead end.
On this opposite wall hangs a series of printed works that inform the sculpture. Scanned and reprinted in large scale, crumpled, typewritten pages present uncertain and submissive dialogue fragments, for example “Ill have another, if you don’t mind,” and “I think I’d like to come, if it’s not too much to ask.” Such language is defined as ‘women’s language,’ utilizing tag questions and intonational patterns that “expresses hesitancy,” and “seeks conformation”. This “set of communicative behaviors have the cumulative effect of weakening women’s speech and keeping them in their ‘place’. Thus, looking upon the sculpture in conjunction with the text pieces it is clear that the work is more than just a metaphor for the flexibility of language- but more specifically a metaphor for the way women have been conditioned to speak. The symbolic content presents itself within both the materiality and textuality of the work.
There lies juxtaposition between the different uses of material within the sculpture. The hard, masculine steel contrasts the fabric, while the joining of metal through welding differs from the traditionally feminine art of sewing utilized on the soft rails. Furthering the feminine and masculine, the rigid steel is unable to stay up on its own and finds support in the form of a giant minimal cube constructed of fabric and foam, bringing into question issues of both support and subordination. Like the track, the words on the walls are repetitive, doubtful, and ultimately ineffective. The form and content of the rails of the track echo the lines of text on the page, and vice versa. The foam track folds in on itself, and the repetition of these folds is reminiscent of laundry, both alluding to ‘keeping women in their place,’ and mimicking the visual and verbal repetition within the text pieces. Themes of uncertainty and functionality are pervasive throughout the piece both sculpturally and textually.