Narrator: Robert Gober made this sculpture in 1988.

Elisabeth Sussman: What they are, are the facsimiles of two laundry sinks that are mounted on a wall, one above the other. They are absolutely not functioning. The object that we're looking at doesn't really add up to anything. You have to project onto this what you think it means.

What's always been very interesting to me is that Gober saw such sinks as these laundry sinks in his studio. For some reason, he was fascinated by the shape and by the look of this thing. So, rather than go to the hardware store and buy them, he decided he would make them. And he would make them to look exactly like the sinks.

He reacts to the sink, he takes it out of its ordinary life and through this meticulous fabrication, he knows it, in a way. He lets the meaning of it, the original attraction to it, kind of filter into his unconscious mind through the process of making it. That's, in itself, profound to me.

Beyond that, what does it mean? I mean, then you can start speculating, about what do you do with the sink. Do you wash your hands? Do you wash your tools? The one thing that comes out of it seems to be that you are just washing, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

Then you say to yourself, "OK, but who needs two of them? One on top of the other exactly alike." You could say everything I just said to you about one sink. Why do you need two of them?

That's a good question, I mean, I'm asking myself that question. But it—that boils down to maybe requiring an art historical answer.

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Robert Gober (b.1954), _The Ascending Sink_, 1985. Plaster, wood, wire lath, steel, and enamel, two parts: 92 x 38 x 27 (233.7 x 96.5 x 68.6) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; promised gift of Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner. P.2011.167. © Robert Gober