Submission No. 18

Joan Linder, Bunny Dinner, 2012, ink on paper

Joan Linder, Bunny Dinner, 2012

My curator posts for me another bunny drawing (the first was Submission No. 1). It is high time.

A family sits at the kitchen table. Breakfast? Dishes in the sink. Perhaps it is dinner. Yes — just checked the title: Bunny Dinner. Elementary, my dear Watson.

We see the stuff of family life. The dishes in the sink, the half avocado on the cutting board with the pit still in it, the Post-it note on the cabinet, the ornamental object hanging from the window latch (how do we acquire these things?), the toys scattered on the floor, the chairs of various sizes..

It is daytime, I think. The window is filled with light. The twin plants seem to be in the act of photosynthesis as we speak.

But notice how the whole scene is seen from the perspective of the large bunny (back to us) in the foreground. It’s like a classic over the shoulder shot in a movie. There’s my family. There’s my life. But the three members of this large bunny’s family, diminishing in size from left to right, are each troubled in his or her own way. Let’s review them:

At the far left, there is a grown man, with no bunny ears, stubble-faced, long-haired, receding hairline, flat-nosed, unattractive and yet appealing too because he looks so sensitive. He stares directly at us. His expression is melancholic, peaceful. It appears that he has not even sampled his food (sausages? green beans?) — somehow we doubt he will. He is waiting for something, perhaps? He is stopping — just stopping?

Moving along the table to the right we see a younger boy, floppy bunny ears sagging over his head. He has shaggy hair, a pained expression. Something is irritating him. The food? The condition under which we live?

And at the end of the table, at the far right, an infant. His bunny ears are thick, almost repulsively so. He is eating peas or Cheerios, hands grasping busily. He is oblivious to the others — intent, but not really happy. No joy emanates from this little bunny child, only intention, desire. We see the results of his frustrations and earlier, cast-away desires on the floor — a xylophone, a music box, alphabet letters.

And finally there is our parental figure, the large bunny. Not clear whether it’s a she or a he. (S)he reaches out towards the infant bunny with a rattle, or is it a serving spoon? A spatula? He(r) right eye, just visible in profile, bulges out oddly. She does not appear to be joyful either.

What arrests my eye, what keeps bringing me back, like an itch, like a memory, is the dark, cross-hatched, dress-like blouse/dress/shirt of the stubble-faced man to the left. This garment has pronounced shoulders. It is slimming. It is incongruous. It suggests our efforts, the wearer’s efforts, the purchaser’s efforts, certainly the designer’s efforts, at self-presentation, courtship, the creation of an allure which will draw others. It is like a whiff of some other life… some active, virile, seductive, unpredictable, luscious, impulsive, dangerous life, lived outside this room. Does it still exist, out there in the white space over the kitchen sink? Can each of these four figures still reach it, if he or she wanted to? Is this kitchen, this home, a prison-house or an active choice?

Questions for us all, dear Watson. It’s all in the details, I would suggest. Bunny ears or not.

About Tom Clyde

The best place to learn about me is to read my riffs. What could be more revealing? Cheeky, maybe, but true enough.

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