Sacha Baumann is an artist and designer living and working in Los Angeles.

The life and death of Mr. Badmouth



Richard Serra and his gigantic, gorgeous sculptures. Early this morning I woke up thinking about them. My jaw was really aching and I fuzzily thought 'Torqued ellipses.' It was weird.

I liked waking up thinking about motorcycles and Denis Leary better. But like that dream, my subconscious thoughts this morning were influenced by the few days before, this time from looking at the book "Richard Serra Sculpture 1985-1998".

Over coffee and more browsing of the book this morning I had a realization. It's a little new agey and very simple: the sculptures may help me with a bad habit.

I am an incessant jaw clencher. I know it doesn't sound very insidious, but it's a painful and distracting habit that I can't quite control. I don't ever feel myself about to clench, I just catch myself in the act and then I tell myself to stop and relax. It goes on night and day. In fact, it has gotten to the point where I wake myself up in the middle of the night just in case I am clenching.

I went to the dentist and got a very unsexy 'night guard'. (It reminded me a little bit of the jog bras my friend wears to bed). It didn't help. Instead of jamming my teeth together in the middle of the night, I jammed my teeth against a piece of plastic. And it did nothing to help the daytime clenching.

Looking at the Serra book this morning, I realized that a relief from my habit may be in thinking of Serra's unpredictable sculptures. Their huge, tilting forms look unlikely and unstable despite their heavy steel make-up. They compel the viewer to not just observe them, but to explore their shape and the spaces they create. Serra says it best: "I found very important the idea of the body passing through space, and the body's movement not being predicated totally on image or sight or optical awareness, but on physical awareness in relation to space, place, time, movement."

So what does this have to do with my jaw? I need to stop concentrating on clenching and begin being in the moment. Duh.

1967, the year of Perry Mason

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