Monday, November 14, 2011

Jason Scuilla's Foot Fetish Tickles Fancy

Two prints by Jason Scuilla at the MAPC show tickle my fancy. At first, they seem simple, almost unfinished images, where there is a lot of open plate area, and clean etched line. However, what brings an element of curiosity about his images is his play of scale and the subject. There are Enormous feet walking, dancing, flying through his landscapes! (I can hear Monty Python's theme song faintly running through my mind). 

These Feet, these colossal, massive feet, which look like chiseled, craggy and crumbling marble, are tip-toeing through the Italian landscape light as a feather. The absurdity of it makes me laugh. The rest of Scuilla's spare compositions lays bare witness that such a humorous thing is actually happening, and  here they are, feet effortlessly crossing the terrain, toes barely tickling the ground. Surely a colossal statue, which should be attached to such manner of said feet, would be crushing the ground and anything else beneath them, but then we break from Scuilla's vision.

Scuilla's  prints resemble old book plates torn from an ancient text. Then low and behold, one sees that Scuilla refers to his time spent studying ancient Roman culture. The subject of these two prints, 'io lo vidi' and 'arto fantasma' springs from Scuilla's interest in imagining the colossal statue fragment of the Roman emperor Nero's foot in the Domus Aureas. His playful imaginings of these  metatarsals amuses us and makes us question what is real. With just these two feet, he also shows Nero to be the mad emperor we always have envisioned; he romps through the city of Rome on his self-indulgent quests. He [Nero] is unconcerned with the damage he can inflict upon the landscape and the city as he merrily hops along - like one of the balloons in Monty Python.

We know this was a painful era in ancient Rome's past, but Scuilla lets us be as one with the emperor and gleefully survey the Tuscan land. If the 'shoe' fits....

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