30 May 2011

A Day of Rest

My apartment overlooks the Seattle Art Museum and Jonathan Borofski's "Hammering Man" sculpture--I guess I should more correctly say one of Borofski's "Hammering Men" statues (there are at least eleven scattered around the world) and that we look one another in eye: I live on the sixth floor and he is six stories tall.  As I look my bedroom window, this is what I see:

The giant raises his hammer, the backswing arcing high and well behind his enormous steel head. There he pauses, as if contemplating...one..two...and then swings the hammer toward the piece of metal held in his other hand.  The strikes rain down smoothly, mechanically, and relentlessly.  He used to rest for evenings and holidays, but now the work is unending, although I'm not sure if that's out of necessity or choice.  As it is--nearly midnight on a Sunday--he is hammering away.

Borofski's website explains that the Hammering Men are intended to symbolize the unity of laborers worldwide, but it is hard to imagine a more depressing representation: endless, mindless physical labor with no apparent result.  He stands eternally in front of one of the nation's premier cultural venues, but is unable to lay aside the tools of his trade in order to enjoy the fruits of a society free from incessant toil.

I suppose it's a good reminder to keep this internship (and my twelve weeks here in Seattle) in perspective.

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