Molly Gabbard is a current MFA candidate at San Diego State University and she’s got a magnificent set of tits. The use of set here is misleading, it’s more of a series really, expertly sculpted in a variety of materials. She donned the pair titled “Big Jugs” for a performance as part of her thesis show, “Everyday Titties” at SDSU’s open studios last Thursday. The aforementioned jugs have sprouted from the front of a standard light blue short-sleeved work shirt, swallowing the button placket between them. These are not boobs that lounge by the pool, these breasts mean business, as the viewers in the University gallery saw in short order.

Big Jugs
Sculpture by Molly Gabbard, image via the artist’s website

The artist was joined by musician Lauren Jones playing an improvised drum set in the corner. The performance space was grounded with shaggy carpet, spotted with detritus from the week’s earlier performances of Saggy Boobs, Defying Gravity and High Impact Bounce. A teetering pile of fabric and materials in the foreground stood about 6 feet tall. Other objects included a worn wooden sawhorse, a lamp pointed towards a very dated office chair and another bare lightbulb hanging from a bright yellow extension cord looped over the gallery’s suspended ceiling.

Gabbard enters jerking a metal toolbox authoritatively, it’s industrial crash parting the crowd that packed in to catch a glimpse. She wears her sculpture Big Jugs, light blue straight-leg jeans, tight-laced Doc Martens and a teal hat atop a close-cropped curly wig–very midwestern assembly line vet. She crosses the space, flinging her toolbox down with a jarring clunk and plops herself into the chair, adjusting it to the correct height with her legs shot ramrod straight out in front of her. Once seated, with safety goggles affixed and baseball hat pulled down, she scatters the contents of her toolbox across the carpet in a glinting avalanche.

20180503_183948
Molly Gabbard Performing at the  SDSU University Gallery, May 3, 2018

A stack of clear plastic cups is produced and she starts loudly sorting metal parts on the floor. After some forceful clanking, the right nipple of her swollen boob shirt lets loose a stream of what looks like milk. Ever the prepared pragmatist, Gabbard snatches up a cup and holds it below the stream, plugging the nipple with a finger while she takes a quick sip surveying the work to be done.

The performance continues with milk reappearing from the right nipple till it is plugged with a wad of chewing gum, and refusing to appear from the left nipple till it was wrestled, jostled and pricked open. Her frustration mounts as she tears off her hat in search of hairpins, her manner switching between professional-breast-technician-solving-a-problem and toddler-who-absolutely-has-to-pee-right-now. At the close, both breasts have been squeezed to the last drop and Gabbard exits having drunk the breast milk and collected her things.

Goddard makes a powerful statement about nourishment. Showing lactation as a utilitarian bodily function for the producer’s benefit contradicts ideas about mothering and nurturing as a selfless act. By getting high on her own supply, Gabbard creates a closed circuit of self-renewal in direct opposition to the luxurious self-care co-opted by consumerism. She gives us a process that is difficult, demanding, and does not wait for a rose-scented bath and a chilled glass of wine.

View Gabbard’s website for upcoming performances HERE
Live images and video by the author

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