Yarn Dog embodies the enigmatic modes of representation that are central to Friedman's work. Despite its title, the piece immediately strikes the viewer as a self-portrait. The identifiable mop of brown hair and the violence inherent in the manipulation of the materials is reminiscent of many of the artist's depictions of his self. Also present is an uncertainty of identity and of what articulates a representation of the self or a living form. Friedman's hybrid form creates a playful and contemporary take on the more weighty mythological composite creatures peppered throughout Greek mythology and gives way to an entropic self-portrait that appears to melt into a mass of knots fading slowly into the floor itself.
Yarn Dog is a violent manipulation of materials that creates a partially disassembled form, or rather a form that seems to be caught in the midst of a permutation. The long red tongue that spills onto the floor, the bulging eyes, jagged teeth, and drooping, heavy mass of yarn that shapes the body demonstrate Friedman's fascination with the unpalatable, embarrassing, and disconcerting. Throughout his oeuvre Friedman's focus on these uncomfortable realities delivers an expression of possibility - possibility of the body and materials - and humorously encourages an acceptance of imperfections and ambiguity.
In the vain of Manzoni, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp, Friedman pushes notions of what materials can and should be used to make art. Spaghetti, toothpaste, Styrofoam, wood, feces, pencil shavings, sugar cubes, and bubble gum are just some of the media used by the artist in creating human forms, self-portraits, sculptures, photographs, drawings and paintings. Here yarn is manipulated to portray an organic, living thing in such a way that defies any hint of restraint and asserts the uncertain and precarious notions of the self and what qualifies as art.