Double Vision Exhibition at the McClelland Gallery.
Ron Mueck’s “Wild Man” rose above a sea of viewers in the Elizabeth Murdoch Gallery, his total nakedness starkly contrasting with their fashionable attire.
The clenched toes, anguished body language and facial expression evoked empathy in me, but they weren’t the result of his discomfort at being the naked centre-of-attention nor from feeling too large to fit in, as I had initially supposed.
At 285cm while seated, he did stand out and all eyes were upon him- staring in wonder at lifelike details, including pores and blemishes on his skin; however, his lack of clothing played no part in his apparent apprehension.
That epiphany occurred when I read the title, though I could have read the clues – his unkempt hair and calloused skin. This man would have been accustomed to being naked. He had existed outside society.
Once again I felt for him – note I speak as if he were sentient. I felt outraged that the man, displaced from his home, was set here for public scrutiny, disregarding any distress.
People are naturally curious, so when offered the opportunity, society gawks, observes and builds a dialogue filled with awe and conjecture about the unfamiliar. We seek similarities within the differences. We wonder at the skill of the artist in replicating life and drawing attention to details we may otherwise have overlooked.
Wild Man raised many questions for me; and I realised I wasn’t alone in connecting with the man within the sculpture when a child looked up and asked, “What is your name?”