Heads feature frequently in these performances but never as faces. Instead, individual identity is shrouded by a crazed and mucky parallel of the pixilation that newsroom editors employ in controversial situations to “protect” the speaker from personal recognition. The shifting alluvial mask that obscures two heads in The Kiss, Cobbing’s film of the eponymous action, materialises the look of love into a tactile mass, a cloggy marl that hands knead, model, smear and spread noisily, glutinously and messily.
On another occasion he buries a head in a ball of concrete while the body that owns it stands facing a brick wall, pressed into a column of the same concrete piled against the elevation. Whether the concrete originates from the head or from the wall is a detail that Cobbing leaves to the viewer’s imagination because, having allowed the adhesive outcrop to dry, the anonymous figure starts picking at the sediment with a chisel and hammer to bring about his own liberation.
Perhaps this work represents not a nightmare but taps at dream-life generally, at its incongruities and ludicrousness, those irrational connections that play out seamlessly in the demented narrative from which the sleeper awakes momentarily confused and distressed. Head cases, indeed, and Cobbing’s documentary habit unleashes a sensation that this whole enterprise has strayed into an art setting through clinical ancestry.
Martin Holman ‘It shouldn’t happen to a dream’ Miser & Now