“Foot,” from the “Body Parts” Series

This piece, from the collection of Julie and Ron Kern, was shown in the Indiana State Museum exhibition.  From the Body Parts series this work depicts Phoenix Park in Dublin which is where, in Finnegans Wake Book I, H.C.E.’s rumored transgression takes place one evening that involved two girls and was seen by three drunken soldiers.  As the rumor spreads across Dublin, the transgression changes after each retelling of events.  Later in Phoenix Park, H.C.E. encounters “a cad with a pipe” and misunderstands a question as an accusation and then denies quickly spreading rumors and eventually H.C.E.’s reputation is undone and he goes into hiding.  The imprint of the foot in concrete symbolizes that Phoenix Park is the location of H.C.E.’s upturned feet.

Finnegans Wake contains multiple layers of plot, symbolism and metaphors.  The main characters, H.C.E.’s family, play many roles of history and fiction, but they also double as topographical features of Dublin’s location.  Anna Livia Plurabelle, the mother is the River Liffey that runs east to Dublin Bay.  Shem and Shaun, the twin sons are the River Liffey’s right and left banks.  Daughter Issy is the upstream River Liffey.  H.C.Earwicker is an buried sleeping giant whose body parts are located in various parts of Dublin.  His upturned feet are the hill in the Magazine Fort within Phoenix Park and his head is a hill at Howth Castle and Environs (H.C.E.).

Reference this previous post about Russell and Joyce for additional information – click here.

"Foot"Russell in his NYC studio, circa 1965, with works from the Body Parts series.

Jim in NYC Studio, Circa 1965

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