9-1 | Sandwork



Jay Mechling


For Sigmund Freud, the terms “dreamwork” and “jokework” denoted the process by which the mind displaces social and psychological anxieties and permits them to emerge disguised in dreams and jokes. This article posits a similar process for “sandwork.” Examining the ways people play with sand in its three basic states—dry sand, wet sand, and mud—the author looks at photographic evidence and makes direct observations on California beaches and at lake beaches in the Sierra Nevada mountains. There, the author reads what he calls sand play “texts” for their coded meanings, most fundamentally in the contrast between clean and dirty. Among his findings, the author notes gender differences in the ways individuals play with sand.  Key words: beaches; gender; mud; photography; sand; sandwork; World Technique