This series of 5 carved sculptures made from reclaimed pallet wood depicts enlarged human bones. Sacrum Profanum (2019, 72 cm x 55 cm x 27 cm sans base) depicts the sacrum (tip of the pelvis), Les Os de palette (2019, 62 cm x 24 cm x 78 cm each) depict the shoulder blades (right and left scapulas), and Palette-Palatin (2018, 35 x 28 x 41 cm each) depict the right and left palatine bones. The works are hand-carved and covered in a white tung oil patina finish.
Each of these specific bones that have an etymological or homophonal relationship to shipping pallets. The “palate” is the roof of the mouth in humans and other mammals – the palatine bones are located in the hard palate – whereas a “pallet” is either a bed (now rare) or a flat platform onto which goods are loaded.
The two sculptures of the palatine bones are more or less mirror images of each-other. To produce the sculptures, I first watched countless hours of youtube anatomy videos for medical students and made sketches from examples of the actual human bones. Afterwards I sculpted a clay model that I then cast this model in plaster.
In my studio, have been collecting wooden pallets for some time. Here, I glued together wooden planks from disassembled pallets and then sculpted the anatomical forms using wood chisels. Because the wood is glued together with the grain going in different directions, it is quite a challenge to get a smooth surface. Blades and chisels wear down quickly and often, and it’s expensive and difficult to maintain a consistent sharp edge while working.
The form of the sculptures is highly realistic; a doctor or layperson familiar with the specific bones would probably be able to recognize them, while most audiences can appreciate the work as an abstract form that evokes “bones” in some way. The work is at once highly specific and nevertheless almost impossible to identify without specialized knowledge or experience.