Lye Splash, 1959


For this assignment, I first went to the New York Public Library to see the New York Times from the day of was born. In that paper, I found an article about the trial of Burt Pugach, a New York lawyer who was jailed for 14 years in 1959 after hiring 3 men to attack his then girlfriend, Linda Riss, with lye. Once Burt was released from prison, the two were married, despite the fact that Burt’s attack blinded Linda. This 1997 article I found was about how Linda Pugach testified in Burt Pugach’s later trial as a character witness, despite being victim to his anger. I chose to do research on abusive relationships and I found a study that compared the prevalence of the characteristics stockholm syndrome alongside the prevalence of abusive relationships and the “passionate love scale”. This study found that abusive relationships tended to rate very high on the passionate love scale and therefore suggested that the intensity and stress of an abusive relationship causes the partners to become hyper bonded to one another. I decided to visually represent this by creating a para fiction in which Linda Pugach was aware that her lye attack caused her to feel more passionately bonded to her husband. Therefore, she might consider this a landmark of their relationship. I created an artifact of the event- a plaster carving of a splash, framed and protected as if it were on display, potentially on Linda Pugach’s mantel.

There were a lot of technical faults in this project and I think the general consensus at the crit was that they detracted far too much from the meaning. The glue got all over the plastic, which made the object look less like a sacred ornamental type object. Additionally, I thought I would be able to carve a lot better than I did and the resulting carvings do not have the read that I wanted them to have. They don’t look like lye attack scars, so the piece just reads as a piece of minimalist sculpture. I would like to re do the project eventually, using this piece as a prototype.

not like you, but pretty cool

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