Anatomy I

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
1987
Sawdust-and-glue relief on wood, with wood frame
48.75 x 48.75 inches

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"I thought about [Anatomy I] for months. I knew what I wanted to do, but I couldn't figure out the way to start it.

"I thought about [Anatomy I] for months. I knew what I wanted to do, but I couldn't figure out the way to start it. Then it came to me in the middle of the night: the nose." The stereotypically broad, flat nose of Anatomy I, the thick, wide lips of Anatomy II: these are the physiognomic talismans of blackness, the totems of anatomical, and therefore "racial," difference. Anatomy I places that broad, flat nose at its center, as a point of emanation. It is a kind of banal campaign rhetoric about intrinsic human worth and beauty become genuine artistic visionariness, inflected with the un-utopian notion that difference may be endemic to the human project—that we are all united by certain bonds and disunited by certain bonds.