Years ago I visited the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC and discovered Wolfgang Laib. It was an odd exhibition, one that at the time I did not care for, but a single work of art has lingered with me across almost a decade from that exhibition – “Milkstone”. It’s best to quote the Sperone Westwater gallery in describing it:
A nearly square, shallow marble basin that is filled with three quarts of milk, it uses surface tension to redouble as a signifier for the apparent incompatibility of its materials. Milk is soft, liquid, perishable; marble, durable, solid, eternal. But in looking at a milkstone, the viewer is hard put to distinguish one from the other.
The work of art stands out now in my memory. It has surprising depth and resilience. I remember a docent explaining that every morning the stone is cleaned and the milk re-poured. I love that detail.
As I consider the last twelve months, and the next twelve, it has particular resonance. My life is taking shape, becoming rooted, cast in a stone. In 36 months I have gone from single with no real possessions to married with child and mortgage (and little white dog). At the same time, my life is taking on an mysterious, immediate fragility, a complete vulnerability with the birth of our first child, a willful gift of the rest of my lifetime to the unknown future of this baby. And yet – my life remains coherent, complete.
There is more that might be said, but the asethetic of the milkstone encourages a contemplative silence, a drawing inward.