Giving Your Right Brain a Regular Workout

Piece of the Week: ‘WHAT?’ by Headless

RB artist¬†headless has deadpan sincerity down and his piece,¬†“WHAT?” features a layered, hand-created illustration of lyrical beauty. I love the texture of the piece; the furry paper, and the wet and lush curling white shapes that carry the sound of “WHAAAT?” across the work. The technical skill of the illustration is so tight that it can almost be taken for granted, but when you focus on the complex subject of the wailing, troubled rabbit character, you understand that there’s more to this work than you might think.

"WHAT?" by headless

Did your bag of groceries split open on your way up the stairs? Did you drop your iPhone in the kitchen sink while doing dishes? Did the sole of your shoe split open to create one of those wonderful shoe-mouth situations? Did you fall asleep on a book and wake up with page numbers inked to your head? Are you simply an exasperated, frustrated being of this world? That is the essence of “WHAT?” It illustrates the times in life when a piercing inner bellow of frustration creates a cavernous echo inside your head.

Someday it feels like you could be sprouting the cascading white swirls like headless’s anthropomorphized rabbit being here; weighed down and turned into a melancholic shade of blue, matching the color of the depths of the Mariana Trench. People often say, “such is life,” when instead they should be saying, “this is life every single day, all the time!” As shown in “WHAT?” it’s a series of unique and mundane little struggles, a beating down, all culminating in an existential “WHAAAT?” that’s shouted while smoking a cigarette and sitting over your unplugged iPod.

That is life every single day.

It’s interesting that headless has created a character reminiscent of a rabbit, as anthropormophic rabbits are a traditional vessel to communicate strange, or sinister feelings and emotions (think “Danny Darko,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Harvey,” David Lynch’s “INLAND EMPIRE”). Rabbits are easily identifiable and familiar; a throwback from childhood. She has made her rabbit unsettling (that gaping wide mouth and teeth), and mysterious. Perhaps it’s the meeting of young and old, childhood and adulthood, that makes rabbits a coded symbol for the uncomfortable and often strange relationship artists have with identity.

It’s a weird illustration, and this is part of what makes it great. It’s simultaneously awkward and sinister. Have we not all had a “WHAAAT?” moment (this week)? Of course we have! And that’s why “WHAT?” is our Piece of the Week.

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