Waiting for Godot
What type of relationship would you like your work to have with the public? This is a question that we kept asking ourselves during the development of the work Waiting for Godot. We were interested in how the meaning of the piece would be conveyed through material, process, and form. Equally important to us was the relationship of the object to the space it would inhabit.
Our central thoughts for this work centered around the plight of members of the LGBTQ community, and their pursuit to be treated equally worldwide. Ideas were sparked by recent political debates about marriage equality in this country and around the globe. As a queer couple together for 11 years and married in California before Prop 8 was instituted, we possess an unyielding commitment to these struggles.
We thought of instances surrounding the oppression of LGBTQ people by the Nazis in World War II Germany. Those who were perceived to be homosexual were forced to wear pink triangles. We considered how branding and shaming was a signifier as well as a highly effective social tool and system. Generations later, the LGBTQ movement reclaimed and repurposed the pink triangle as a symbol of visibility, community, and pride.
Much like our indefinite and unjust wait to become legally married, we decided to fabricate our sculpture utilizing a drawn-out, illogical set of systems. We took 10-foot lengths of steel rod and cut them down using bolt cutters into hundreds of 12-inch stakes. We then employed the torque of a non-hydraulic rotary-drawn machine called the Hossfeld Bender. This machine, which holds material between a metal pin and a die, is powered by the operator’s body strength as a handle is pulled in a sweeping motion over what is essentially a jig. Each foot-long stake was measured and marked for two bends. Using the Hossfeld, we created a slightly squarer horseshoe-like shape out of each stake. This was done approximately 1,500 times.
The next step in our lengthy process was heat bending using oxyacetylene welding. We narrowed down the gaps between all the horseshoe-like shapes and formed equilateral triangles. After the heat-bent forms had cooled, we mig-welded the metal intersections on each triangle for strength, applying two button welds at each closure.
After we formed the individual triangle components, we began to roughly plan out building the piece in the round. We took each steel triangle and intuitively placed them, mutually agreeing on each location, then mig-welding them together. For every two pieces welded together, there were eight button welds, with four welds on each side of the seam. By the completion of the project, the piece was held together by the strength of more than 5,000 welds. It reached over seven feet tall and five feet across, and resembled a beautiful tessellating landscape. Waiting for Godot was sent out locally to a shop in Massachusetts to be galvanized and painted brilliant neon pink.
We wanted the work to be very accessible, which is why the site by the Museum’s entrance on Benefit Street was such a wonderful choice and opportunity. This piece embodies our hope, perseverance, longevity, persistence, togetherness, joy, and love. It is a symbol of our vibrant community, uniting us in the struggle. Waiting for Godot was installed during Rhode Island’s legislative move to allow gays to marry. We could not have been happier with the timing. What makes it even sweeter is that we were able to accomplish this vision together.
García Sinclair and Nafis White (both RISD BFA 2015, Sculpture)
Sitings is funded by the Artist’s Development Fund of the Rhode Island Foundation.