"When the last piece gets attached, something will click," Tristin explained to our installation team standing around the whale's naked substructure. At that point we were still focused on filtration systems in its belly, but Mocha Dick's massive musculature was already attracting a crowd at the window.
Over the course of the week, we've tied to the rope-buttressed inflatable a system of felt strips that form Mocha's barnacle covered, "white as wool" skin, just like that of the sculpture's ship-crushing albino inspiration - the whale on which Melville's Moby Dick is based. Tristin is full of stories about the history of whaling and the anatomy of sea creatures, and seems particularly fascinated by human adventurers in the hostile environment of the sea. The actual Mocha Dick terrorized ships in the early 19th century, and the sculpture is brought to life by stitched scars reflecting the 100 or so skirmishes the whale survived.
Now that we're smoothing the last wrinkles, and the final felt piece has been zippered in place, I see that something magical has indeed happened. A fuzzy white monster busts through the gallery space - it would be terrifying, if he didn't look so darn cuddly.
--Jonathon Kittrell, Art Handler