Ivan Jurakic, EMBEDDED (2010)


“In all of the sculptures fantasy life modulates reality and vice versa.”


Jane Hook’s sculpture may be grounded in her love of the human figure, but they are equally reliant on her background as a psychotherapist. Each of the three distinct components that make up the Embedded triptych relies on her knowledge of both human anatomy and the human psyche. The sculptures form a series of pointed portraits, each of which comments on our society’s increasingly mediated perceptions of the body. As a trilogy, they suggest a narrative of aging – form youth (Prototype) to adulthood (Brigette) to old age (Timepiece).


Based on a WWE action figure of John Cena, Prototype grafts the articulated body of the action figure onto the chubby body of the artist’s nephew, a huge wrestling fan. By juxtaposing the awkwardness of boyhood with the fantasy wish fulfillment found in wrestling, the artist is able to make a simultaneous portrait of her nephew as he is, and as he wishes to be.


Brigette Always Wanted To Be A Superhero takes a similar approach. Based on a portrait of a young friend who was suffering from depression, the sculpture illustrates a recurring dream from childhood – that of being a super heroine saving the world from peril. While the figure in the sculpture is the embodiment of power and strength, it is also an unsustainable fantasy. The real Brigette is a mere mortal, a trained seamstress who helped make the costume. There are no superheroes to save us, only a fluttering cape and a cheap electric fan.


Finally, Timepiece (or Reality Barbie Fantasized) completes this narrative cycle. Barbie is a celebrated archetype within North American culture. In this versions, Barbie has aged and time has not been kind. Assuming she was 18 in 1959 when Mattel launched her, she would be about 68 years old now. Depicting a sagging and spent senior in a protective dome still clinging to her youth, this piece is an incisive critique of the pressures that women in particular face in a consumer culture that constantly bombards us with unsustainable images of youth and vitality.

Hook is not a passive sculptor. She embeds herself into the lives of her subjects and wants to communicate something more than just their physical resemblance. This body of work deftly showcases her ability to make portraits with a pointed satirical edge that invite us to reconsider our society’s obsession with self-image.


Ivan Jurakic, Curator Cambridge Galleries