Soap > Art by the Pound

Art by the Pound

This installation explores our society’s disconnect with the materials or objects we purchase and how they are derived. How does this distance affect the way we value, buy and use products in our daily life? The soap is for sale. It is sold for $5.99/pound. There is a wire tool, scale, paper, string and a lock box provided. The viewer is encouraged to cut, weigh, wrap and pay for the amount of soap they choose.

Soap is a product we are all very familiar with; we use it intimately with our bodies everyday. I chose soap because of this common association we all have with it and because it’s comprised of glycerin, fatty oils, a notion we are not so familiar with. It is often made with vegetable oils, but was traditionally made from animal fats. In the late 1800’s, spermaceti, a thick fatty substance from the head of a sperm whale, was the main source of this oil. The whale tail embodies Spermaceti which was an all purpose industrial product used for burning oils, candles, soaps, lubricants and more. In the 20th century over 770,000 whales we killed and harvested for commercial use.

People in China are buying elephant ivory from the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), who use the profits to fund their war with Uganda. The elephant tusks represent a clear demonstration of what you buy is what you support. How could one buy ivory knowing it supports child militarization or slavery, or a shirt made with child labor? The answer lies in our disconnect with these realities. There is a great distance between what we see on a self and where it comes from.