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Philip  Kunz, USA

"Manhole cover", 27" diameter, wood, rivets, paint.

It occurred to me that a manhole is a metaphor for the entrance to the "underground" of the human psyche, to those levels within us where our humanity, our fears, the 'emotional plumbing' of our life reside. The cover, when considered archetypically becomes those actions in our life that seal off access to these depths, or allow entrance to them. The most primal human action that offers this archetypal metaphor is sexual intimacy; it is thru our sexuality that we both guard our psyche and open ourselves to it's subterranean world. Thru the mystery of sexuality we both shield ourselves from the unfathomable depths of our humanity and enter into it's deep shadows. Wanting the symbology of this, I chose an image of exaggerated sexuality as depicted by the Japanese woodblock print; the larger-than-life genitalia, the emphasis on the sex act, the hyper-attention to sexual union and graphic intimacy. I recognize in Japanese shunga, as in much of ancient erotic art, the presence of this mystery, the awareness of this psychological-covering-role sex plays. I admire the Japanese stylization of this, the graphic simplicity and the heightened sense of 'something other' that acknowledges the archetypal mystery of sexual intimacy. I measured a manhole cover on the road, scrounged up some scrap wood (I sensed that wood should be the medium of this object, as metal is too much man-made, mechanical, too smelted. The "cover" of our interior world, I sense, is 'of nature.') then sketched the shunga fragment onto it. The surprise for me occurred when I had assembled the layers and noticed that the shape of the penis created a face, with the cloth image in the bottom layer a leering open mouth expression whose gaze is the woman's genitals. This surprise deepens the symbology for me, as the male gaze has long been a metaphor for a literalness that hides the shadow of man. The leer of man, whose too-literal identification with his sexuality prevents his access to the rich depths of his humanity, yet who needs the intimacy of sexuality to appreciate the mystery of himself. This, then, is my manhole cover.