Eddy Frankel’s new art book is about a man who turns into a blob
In this exclusive extract from the book, titled Blob, the art critic tells a “vile, miserable little short story about a man whose bones disintegrate”, alongside works from nine artists including Olivia Sterling and Glen Pudvine.
- Eddy Frankel
- 30 March 2022
I became a blob slowly. The transformation from functional adult man to oozing, boneless, gelatinous mass didn’t happen overnight, but over the course of months and years. So slowly you could barely tell it was happening. You don’t notice changes when you live with them day to day. It’s only with big slippages of time that things become horrifyingly, grossly, formlessly apparent. You stumble across an old driving licence or a photo from some teenage party and, fucking hell, you had a jawline, piercing eyes and waves of hair; you remember you had vitality, passion and erections – oh god, erections that would never end.
That disconnect between the pristine past and the cracked present has the same shock as watching a bowl of fruit left to rot in time lapse or images of deforestation in the Amazon. Look at what we have lost, look at what we have become. Feel shame.
I live that life in extremis. My changes were slow, almost imperceptible, like something geological, the melting of a glacier.
It started like any unctuous slide into your 30s. The gentle, autumnal, creeping follicular nudity of hair loss, the gathering of weight around the belly like space junk coagulating in orbit around a dying planet. Some men age, most decompose. Clooney, better looking at 50 than 20. The rest of us? We just flub and flab and melt and moult until we look like haunted versions of our younger selves. Real-life portraits of Dorian Gray that have leeched off the canvas to invade your towns and cities.
But it wasn’t just age with me. It was misery. You can read people’s joy in their bodies. Happy people look happy: unfurrowed, glowing, like sunshine leaks out of every orifice. Fucking unbearable.
Misery does the opposite.
Stress and anxiety and depression and sadness erode your features. Worry lines around the mouth, creases across the brow, the sag of sullen cheeks. Chewed, stubby nails; sunken, tired, grey eyes. You’re shaped physically by your mental state. That’s why I’m a blob.
Oh god, I wish it was just age. I wish it was just male pattern baldness and a gentle paunch, bones getting creakier, organs turning to mush. But I’m the physical result of countless mental neuroses, of social anxiety, of depression, of guilt, of years and years of accumulated shame. You eat garbage, it clogs your arteries. You think garbage, it clogs your brain, and then – it turns out – your body. Hate yourself enough and you can destroy yourself. It’s not a hugely useful superpower, but it’s better than nothing, I guess.
Blob by Eddy Frankel is available to purchase at Trolley Books.
Olivia Sterling: Blob (Copyright © Eddy Frankel, 2022)
About the Author
Eddy Frankel is a London-based art critic. He’s Time Out’s art and culture editor, and has written about art for publications including The Guardian, ArtReview, The Art Newspaper and Vanity Fair. He’s also the founder and editor of OOF, a magazine about the intersection of art and football.