Thomas (Tommy) Stoeckinger
Working trades in the construction industry for several years I picked up some of the basic tenets of household plumbing from one of my coworkers named Victor: “1. Shit rolls downhill, 2. Payday is on Friday, 3. Plumbers Rule the World”. On one hand, these statements may be crude and slightly humorous, while on the other hand, they not only describe some important facts of life for almost all plumbers (except the astronauts who maintain the international space station), but they map out a profound way of looking at many aspects of life that extend far beyond plumbing. I attempt to implement some of the poetry of Victor’s statements that I see as so elegantly combing pragmatism and idealism, utility with poetry, realism and fantasy, science and religion, humor and seriousness. The apparent incongruity of the image of plumbers as world leaders, coexists with the pragmatic necessity of water and waste systems that support essential biological needs and thus entire ecologies and social structures.
I picked up the phrase “strategic deconstruction” from my old boss Dale who refused to use the word “demolition” in reference to a job that involved taking something apart to complete a repair or remodel. Despite the intellectualized pretentiousness of this phrase, its discerning connotations helps me channel nihilistic uncertainty into a creative production. I try my best to be strategic when deconstructing and reconstructing systems of power and visual language (such as icons of political, religious, and cultural significance) that clash with evolving perspectives and cultural sentiment. I play with contemporary and traditional cultural iconography and fabrication processes in a way that might undermine the outdated aura of authority that a lot of traditional imagery conveys, while attempting to retain some of the affect that objects like life-sized figurative sculptures provoke.
My embrace of certain low-brow aesthetics in the form of scatological references or the overt use of puns can operate on multiple levels. Viewers are free to read certain pieces as a visualization of a linguistic pun or a bathroom joke. On the other hand, puns exemplify the flexibility of words and their virtual relationship to external reality; Or in the case of Malebox, they may convey metaphors for stereotypes involving gender and communication.
I am serious about not taking myself too seriously, and it is important that I don’t pretend to have all the answers and thus continue the long legacy of men like myself imposing their ideas on others. I attempt to use humor to undermine pretentiousness and express humility. Perhaps there is some poetry contained in the ironic act of publicly expressing humility. The apparent contradiction involved in asserting the power of my creative expression to critically examine the absurd sources of my own white male privilege relates to my interest in nuanced expressions and unsynthesized conversations. I think of my work as a playful yet rigorous way to explore serious topics, justified play, or maybe it is just play.