8’ x 14 x 22’, two levels, plastic flooring, plastic objects, newspaper, 1000 digital prints
site-specific installation for
Hutchins Gallery, Lawrenceville, NJ
A two story installation, featuring photography and sculpture, that examined the use of materials in our society’s cycle of seduction, consumption, and disposal. Revolving around a full scale ‘tree’ that appeared to grow from the lower level of the gallery and into the ceiling, the ‘fruits’ of this cycle burst forth on the upper level.
The photographic section of the installation featured images that focused on a particular color, texture, pattern, substance, or quantity, as a ‘look’ to collect. These photographs have an infinite yet two-dimensional quality, the potential to become an endless printed skin or wrapping. Creating something that is both unlimited and obtainable stimulates the need to consume. Organizing and displaying these photographs by their formal qualities (color and morphology) rather than their subject matter evokes desirability rather than functionality.
Once a purchased object goes through the cycle of desirability and consumption, only to arrive at the state of becoming clutter, in disrepair, and dump-worthy, it is surprisingly difficult to either discard or reuse. These kinds of belongings, many of them unrecyclable but bulky plastic objects that fit one phase of life and not another, cheap enough to purchase but insubstantial enough to keep, resurface again and again: in one’s basement, garage sales, dumps, and finally, garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean. Discarded because they are no longer functional, these toys, appliances, containers, and furniture continue to exist through their pernicious sturdiness, visible in their physical form long after they have become useless.
A discarded roll of imitation wood flooring left on the curb of Route 206, adjacent to the gallery, became a tree growing from the lower to the upper level of the gallery space, viewable from the rotunda, a surprise highlighting the grandness of the adjacent wood paneled rotunda. This is an exploration of the process by which an object moves from desirable to repugnant. In this particular case, the look of wood, rather than wood itself, was enough to give the discarded object its original desirability. Returning this material to its original source of inspiration, an organic object, heightens awareness of its artificiality. It was purchased for its surface imagery – the seductiveness of the material is more about what it evokes than its actual functionality.
These objects, or 'fruits' of consumption, are discarded rather than recycled like newspaper (a material that may soon cease to be produced while the information it offers will become newly viewable on desirable consumer objects). In that way, newspaper seems ironically suited to the task of mummifying these stubborn belongings, as it is a fragile and nearly obsolete material that brings the plight of the permanent brethren it envelops to light. A tree suggests a cycle of growth, and yet these objects seem to gum up the works, refusing to participate gracefully as they continue to multiply.