Research for Through the Mouth of the Mantle, 2016
Susan Jacobs’s art evokes imaginaries related to alchemy and magic, employing physical-chemical phenomena as transformation agents for the materials used in her sculptures, installations and videos. Through the Mouth of the Mantle (2016) is an installation based on household experiments in which inanimate bodies seem to magically come to life. By displacing this mechanism to other contexts the artist shows that the relationships between species, systems and gestures are capable of making us recognize life in forms considered dead, thus disrupting fundamental certainties. In a kind of arena structured out of compressed sand, Jacobs combines a series of small experiments, videos, sculptures and objects, among them: a squid’s head-shaped-shovel being corroded by Gallium; the same liquid metal element transformed into a parabolic mirror by rotating inside a cup over a marble Lazy Susan; videos of the ink and mucus of a squid moving over the deck of a rocking boat; and the homemade chemistry experiment ‘black snake’. The act of observing and understanding these experiments as parts of a whole challenges our notions of what we see, perceive and feel.