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Beyond the Bun: Discovering Absurdity in the Mundane

by Hien Le

FIGURE 1. [DOWNLOAD OF THIS IMAGE IS PROHIBITED.] Russell T. Gordon, American, 1936-2013, Hot Dog Bridge, 1974, color lithograph, image: 12 3/16 x 15 3/8 in. (31 x 39 cm), sheet: 17 x 19 3/8 in. (43.2 x 49.2 cm). Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gift of Dr. Christopher A. Graf and Janet Graf, his wife, 74.28.12. ©Estate of Russell T. Gordon.

FIGURE 2. Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) jumps into the hotdog finger universe for the first time.

"Hotdog Bridge" by Russell T. Gordon shares a similarity with the cinematic landscape, notably the hotdog scene from “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” In both instances, the humble hotdog goes beyond the traditional culinary confines that it resides in, transforming into a symbol of creativity and endless possibilities, but most importantly, absurdity.

Just as in the film where the dimension-hopping protagonist, Evelyn Wang (played by Michelle Yeoh) happens to tap into the world where fingers have been replaced by hotdogs, the connection bridges the mundane world of Evelyn with the ridiculous world of hotdog fingers. Gordon's painting has a bridge made of hotdogs, linking the “normal” world with the world of imagination. The bridging of normality and silliness in a way emphasizes the significance of food as a conduit for the imagination. In “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the hotdog scene serves as a visual metaphor for interconnectedness, as Evelyn learns to connect with her “nemesis,” Deirdre (played by Jamie Lee Curtis), and understands that she too is someone struggling to go through life just like everyone else. Then in "Hotdog Bridge," food becomes a vehicle for absurdity and going beyond one’s imagination. Placing a hotdog between two cliffs to be a bridge allows the viewer to think beyond what a hotdog traditionally can be, can it be just a food or can it also be a literal bridge, what else can a hotdog be?

Both the film and the painting blur the lines between reality and fantasy, inviting the audience to think about the ordinary in extraordinary contexts. Just as the characters in the film navigate a multiverse while dealing with their daily lives, Gordon's artwork invites us to cross the fantastical hotdog bridge, embracing the whimsy and absurdity that art and food can bring to our lives. Through these creative outlets, we are reminded of the limitless potential of the human imagination, where even a simple hotdog can become a bridge to unexplored worlds of creativity and wonder.


Everything Everywhere All at Once. Dir. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Perf. Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis. A24, 2022 Streaming.


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