The worm—a creature innumerable, timeless, and essential—dwells beneath our feet all our lives, ready at a moment to return us to shapeless mud. This most basic and universal process of decomposition threatens the narratives we weave about ourselves. What holds us together in light of our inevitable deterioration?
Kettner’s collection of ceramic-textile works begins as an homage to disabled bodies, and represents members of her community as funny instead of pathetic, powerful instead of weak, and desirable instead of monstrous. The miniature scale of the work and the use of materials historically associated with domestic crafts merge the functional with the so-called functionless. Each ceramic form acts as a tiny tapestry loom or shaped core for a woven basket. The resulting sculptures, restricted and decorated by their fiber bindings, participate in a long tradition of
costuming and modifying the body as a way of amplifying both our attraction to and fetishization of deformity.
In “The Eternal Worm,” the feats of mystics and prophets are recast as sideshow attractions and parlor tricks. Interspecific composite bodies perform acrobatics and transmutation, talk to animals, and even raise the dead, alluding to the infinite permutations of experience made possible by the very costumes we wear. These costumes become more than mere evidence of the symbiotic relationships we adopt with each other: they hold us together, as disparate, wriggling mud forms, and—in defiance of the eternal worm—mend our intolerable fractures.