Creature discomforts

Gregor Turk's Limits

Artist Gregor Turk has long been consumed by maps. Maps of Georgia. Maps of New York. Symbolic map icons indicating bodies of water or winding roads. Maps as a means of establishing order and territory.

The thrill of Turk's most recent project, Limits, lies in how much it goes off the map, both for the artist and for the very notion of control and stability a map implies.

Turk took inspiration for Limits from the map markings that indicate political or geographic boundaries. But his squirmy, icky sculptures hardly look like anything so functional and human-defined.

Turk's 22 ceramic sculptures, clinging to the walls of his gallery/studio, are scary little beasties. About the size of a bloated baguette, they have the look of something that has just slithered out of a flesh-gash in a David Cronenberg film. Their worm-like bodies twist and writhe in postures of pain or aggressive burrowing.

The pieces conjure up a variety of associations. Some resemble tuber-shaped ferrets with their bellies turned up to the sky. Others look like leeches or eels propelling themselves through water with their ribbony, finlike projections. With the deep grooves cut into their surface, some evoke tree branches. Tree branches, mind you, about to mutate into hairless albino puppies with dozens of tiny, stubby legs.

It is their ambiguity that makes them so unsettling. The tension between their soft-belly vulnerability and their grab-your-musket parasitic threat ratchets up the anxiety factor even further.

In an unintentional, but relevant way, the setting of Turk's studio only enhances the eerie and appealing Limits. Turk's creations dwell in a slip of industrial-meets-residential zone called Blandtown, tucked between acres of kudzu and wild Georgia topography, and the ramshackle incursions of the human, including free-range dogs and toilets in back yards.

Kudzu and garbage flow and encroach. The creatures threaten to escape their lab. And an artist's examination of physical geography begins to blur the border between the conscious and the subconscious.

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