DECADE Duo: Robert Gober and Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Robert Gober’s The Inverted Sink, 1985, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (Double Portrait), 1991, both featured in DECADE: Contemporary Collecting 2002–2012, demonstrate how artists can use their work to make political statements—in this case, about homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic—in a simple and subtle, yet powerful, manner.

For his work The Inverted Sink, Robert Gober enlarged and altered a domestic object, transforming it into a serene, yet commanding, abstract sculpture. Gober intentionally chose a sink as subject matter—sinks are used for sanitary purposes and this work was created at a time when the fear of AIDS was at its height, with much focus on cleanliness and fears of spreading the disease.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s conceptual work Untitled (Double Portrait) consists of a never-ending stack of paper placed on the museum floor, from which guests are invited to “please take only one.” The gold double-circle image printed on each sheet is representative of two like people in solidarity and love. In 1991, it made a subtle, yet powerful, statement in support of the homosexual lifestyle at a time when that lifestyle was publicly linked to fears associated with the spread of disease.

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