凹 A Drained Volcano 凹: Response to BTM Live

Danny Lam invites us to experience clay, concavity and creation, through a poetic response to a sculpture show from Sung Hwan Bobby Park as part of Auckland Pride.

At BTM Live, Sung Hwan Bobby Park created a sculpture out of a large cylindrical body of clay, which he carved out using his hands, simulating the sexual act of fisting.

A man loiters around his car parked outside the Old Folks Association. He holds his phone with the screen facing him, waiting for an instruction to go somewhere, do something. He stays by his vehicle, detached from the crowd around him. I hear Nathan, a curator for the show, approaching him, maybe hoping to make him comfortable attending it alone. I suppose it could feel voyeuristic.

“Are you here for the show?”

“No, what is it?”

“It’s a performance art thing, it’s part of Pride festival, it’s about fisting.”

“Oh, okay.”

Maybe you could have led with the clay.

A structure shaped like a tall pommel horse stands veiled in the centre of the hall, set upon a black sheet with the same aspect ratio as the floor. The arena feels like a void, untouchable and sacred. A ring of voyeurs surrounds the void, bunched at the door, with overflow prolapsing into the corridor.

I feel feet falling across the floor. His steps sinking into the wood as if his leather boots were rotting and regrowing. All carbon, really. A million malleable rings.

The ceramicist breaches the horizon and undresses the structure. A surface of clay, compacted into a wooden barrel hinged along a horizontal seam. It’s strapped in by its ends and held shut by cable ties. His face is focused. Not aggressive, not scared. Just fixated on the flat surface he will eventually shape into his vessel. The clay is faceless, the barrel is sealed at its head, its mouth and anus one and the same. He and it are connected only by pressure and malleability. The ceramicist convex 凹, the clay concave 凸。

Photo Credit: John Rata

He dons a pair of black rubber gloves and begins to carve out an anus from the frozen sphincter. Gentle drills, fingers dig into the wall. A dimple deepens, the depth of a thimble and then a tube. Gentle, just at first. The clay-flesh bulges out as he sinks in. He dips his hands into a basin of water to lubricate the sticky fingers. Were it a body and not a barrel of clay strapped to the pommel horse, this would be a viscous pool of polymer gel. Not long after, he excavates a lump that he drops into a receptacle at his feet. It shudders to the floor, absorbing any shock like a sponge. As if it were desperate to fall and adhere to the earth, out of fear of ever again being suspended. No wonder the clay is strapped in. It must be terrified. The taut bondage is simulating the gravity it so craves.

He continues to manually evacuate the clay. The mud weeps down his gloves, and more and more is dug out, and dropped (returned) to the ground. The ceramicist gets dirtier. The clay emptier, relieved of pressure.

The taut bondage is simulating the gravity it so craves.

The ceramicist’s fists start to pound harder, punching and tunnelling. The air squelches past his arms, becoming breathy howls and spurts that mimic moans of pleasure. A long voiceless draw means submission. A loud fricative flow means stop. Then the ceramicist stops. He hydrates, exfoliates the wrinkled lips, and moulds them into a juicy gaping crater.

A woman with grey hair enters the room. She sits down on the floor and smirks. She is unable to see the clay, only his face. I think she must know him. She must know what he’s doing. Maybe she has seen this before. Maybe she’s also a ceramicist.

The man from outside has joined in, too.

When the ceramicist bends down, I get a clear view of the cavity he has created. The light does not penetrate as deep as arms can. The hole is dark – its depth, width, shape and contours all hidden by a smooth, pubic mountain.

凹 a drained volcano 凹

Photo credit: John Rata

I feel a pull to reach into the hole with my own hands. Spectators around me are staring, sitting on their fingers to suppress erection. They are all drawn to the clay. Their hands longing for cold insulation, to feel the embrace of the hard, rigid rectum.

He reaches in further, elbow deep now, his shoulders raised to accommodate the altitude of the anus. His whole body contorted in accommodating angles, in submission to the hole.

The ceramicist was never in control. It was always the clay. It could have swallowed him up at any time, should it have chosen to bite down.

His hand taken back. Returned to




Photo Credit: John Rata

For excavation, for insulation, for curve and push. For push back and forth, waves of undulating pleasure, fluctuating pressure, roll back and forth.

No grip. His hands slip past every crag, slide down the valleys his fingers traced.

Do it again. You aren’t finished.

There’s something in my brain that urges me to create holes. I would dig holes at the beach and wait for the waves to come in and fill them with water. Even where it’s dry, eventually the wind brings enough material to undo my excavation. But more holes appear in the sand. All of us are diggers. Some are deep enough to bury a limb. We’re not meant to leave them there. People who run on the beach could fall in and break their legs. I always aim for armpit deep. Sometimes groin deep if I can manage. I dig as a compulsion, reaching for depth as a goal that keeps retreating into the earth. My fingertips are rubbed raw by the sharp silica. Grains of sand plant themselves like seeds under my fingernails.

Maybe in time, they’ll take root, and begin to burrow into my flesh. They’ll grow isometric mycelia, slicing through muscle and vessels, following the patterns of capillaries and tracing over them as a bloody palimpsest. Eventually, they will hone thinner and thinner, until they reach molecular accuracy. Millions of silica arms tease at the walls of my cells. Their crystal fingers start by carving, gentle drills, pressing a dimple into the surface. It circles and massages the cell, coaxing it into carving out an accommodating anus.

A blister bursting.

I fantasise about a ceramicist made of sand. Translucent body and featureless face. His quartz arms punching into my flesh in a steady second rhythm.

The contents of my cells spill as he excavates me, fisting the million microscopic holes he dug into my hand.

But I don’t feel empty. I feel filled up. Bursting with his crystalline pulse.

He searches for the nuclei, and hollows them out, discarding them as excrement.

And when he is satisfied with the depth of his btm/hole.

When his fingertips tease the limit

I pull him in

And beg him to go deeper.

Sung Hwan Bobby Park’s sculpture created at BTM Live will be exhibited 24 February – 2nd March at the Audio Foundation.

Read by Category

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

Your Order (0)

Your Cart is empty