Julia Randall: Fragile Anatomies

Fragile Anatomies

Text by David Everitt Howe
November 24, 2014
Julia Randall can make anything sexual, even a piece of wadded gum. It becomes like an otherworldly genital—a perverse cross between a leaf and a vagina, bent out of shape, and folding in strange ways. Randall has written that “bubblegum initially connotes innocent, cheeky pleasure, yet the fragile skin of gum also points to the susceptibility of the body, and the dreaded passage of time. Bubble gum is an insignificant, disposable material, and the pleasure taken from its flavor is fleeting. The bubble is a vessel that holds our breath, for a brief moment, in a physical form. Seen as a group, the inflating/deflating bubble imagery is a visual manifestation of breathing. They are decidedly anthropomorphic, and can appear abject, fragile, and as vulnerable as the human body.”

The mouth, too, is a favored subject. Floating on paper without its respective face, it becomes like a disembodied sex organ. Such a surreal gesture makes what is a pretty ordinary feature on the body look freakish and bizarre. Though let’s be honest, a mouth is a complex thing, with many utilitarian and sexual functions. When asked why she likes mouths so much, Randall noted “the mouth is the body’s critical site, where we eat, speak, bite, kiss; it is both ferocious and tender. I am struck by how we see the mouth and tongue all the time, yet they are also incredibly intimate and private. I am much more attracted to the mouth than any of the other ‘racy’ parts of the body.” Racy, for Randall however, can really be attributed to anything.