Thomas Martinez Pilnik
Class of 2023
I produce a physical manifestation of a decision and turn it into an iconic intervention. The icons I use, for example the Petrine Cross in Orthodox Christianity, carry within it the faith in a ‘real presence’ of the divine, in excess of simple representation. My work involves physical elements like appropriated objects, recycled materials, and repurposed electronics to construct, overturn, and go beyond the representations. I use these inverted and iconographic strategies to disarm the audience and open up a gap between expectations and materials, with the goal of delivering a kind of ‘real presence’ awareness in reception—to stimulate a literal shift in neurological processing. Within this aporia, my sculptural interventions assemble and disassemble key data points from surveillance societies, religious paraphernalia, burnout culture, colonialist ahistoricism, and ecological violence. My intent is to force self-reflection in the synaptic gap between the sculpture as performance and audience reception.