Jana Sterbak

Golem: Objects as Sensations

1979-1982
Two themes are interwoven in this work. The first is the medieval Jewish legend of the golem, an artificially created man and one of a long line of automata who have given expression to the human desire to discover the essence of life and duplicate the divine act of creation. All these experiments go awry in some way, underlining the moral that such Promethean ambitions are destined to be frustrated. The second theme concerns the old theory that traced the origin of the emotions to specific internal organs, explaining human temperaments by the dominance of one or other of the "humours." Sterbak's use of different bodily organs to represent the psychic life, and the incompleteness and disarray of her creation, brings together the two stories.
Artist
Title
Golem: Objects as Sensations
Date
1979-1982
Medium
Sculpture
Materials
8 lead hearts, bronze spleen painted red, lead throat, bronze stomach, rubber stomach, lead hand, bronze tongue, lead penis, bronze ear, and 3 framed gelatin silver prints
Dimensions
installation space: 6 x 3.6 m
Nationality
Canadian
Credit line
Purchased 1986
Accession number
29255.1-20