with found objects
Tens of Thousands of Metallic Lawn Ornaments Glisten Inside Nick Cave’s Monumental Installation at MASS MoCA
Composed from tens of thousands of metallic wind spinners, more than 10 miles of crystals, and thousands of other traditional lawn decorations is Nick Cave‘s installation Until, a work which exists at two levels within the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art‘s (MASS MoCA) football field-sized exhibition space, Building 5. Illuminated chandeliers peek from within dense clouds of dangling crystals hung from the building’s rafters a story and a half above the floor. Several bright yellow ladders lead to the top of these glistening structures, showcasing crowded platforms that serve as home to dozens of ceramic birds, gilded pigs, colorful flora, and cast iron lawn jockeys.
Collecting the enormous supply of lawn ornaments and decorations for the exhibition was a collaboration between Cave and MASS MoCA. A team of several individuals scoured eBay, thrift stores, and other second hand shops to find previously used materials that would be perfect for the towering installation. The thousands of found objects create a textured experience, one viewing his cloud-like platforms through mirrored kinetic objects. Not all inclusions are intended to dazzle however, as scattered images of guns, bullets, and targets lay within the comforting imagery of opulence and kitsch.
“Formally their [the metallic wind spinners’] reflective quality was important,” Cave shares with Colossal. “To have something that we can see ourselves within as well as something that becomes almost mirage-like. Conceptually, garden spinners are found in our own back yards, so using these everyday objects with images of guns, teardrops and bullets conveys the proliferation of this violence in and around the safety of our homes.”
Cave, an artist best known for his elaborately produced Soundsuits, created the installation as a response to gun violence and policies and race relations in America. The title, Until, sits at the center of two phrases. The first, which lays at the heart of our judicial system, “innocent until proven guilty,” and the second phrase, which is seen to be more commonly practiced, “guilty until proven innocent.”
Cave hopes the exhibition serves a catalyst for these topics to be more readily discussed, as well as a space for change to be motivated. During the run of Until he invited several dancers, singers, poets, and composers to perform their own messages within the work, allowing the visual exhibition to double as a rotating stage.
“By inviting other artists and community members to make their own work within it, the installation becomes a platform for their work and their audiences,” said Cave. “Their particular of sharing their view on the subject may strike a different or more specific chord in some and as such the whole project becomes more effective and reaches more people. This is in service to all of our goals. I also learn from their works the role of my own work.”
A nearly 200-page book centered around the exhibition, Nick Cave: Until which is published by Prestel, will be released on April 28 at MASS MoCA, featuring installation images as well as essays by MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish, Talking Heads co-founder David Byrne, and Cave himself. It will also feature poetry centered around the justice system by Claudia Rankine and reflections by the head of the Police Board and Task Force on Police Accountability in Chicago, Lori Lightfoot.
The book is available for pre-order on MASS MoCA’s website and Amazon, and can be found in the museum later this month. There will be a book launch in NYC on April 26 at the New York Pubic Library and one at MASS MoCA on April 28. You can visit the monumental exhibition at MASS MoCA through August 2017. Until will then travel to Carriageworks in Sydney in 2018, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR in 2019.
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Self-taught Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru (previously) fashions extravagant eyewear from pieces of found metal and other salvaged materials on the streets of his hometown of Nairobi. Kabiru has been building his futuristic glasses since childhood, and dedicates much of his time to producing works for his C-Stunner series of eyeglasses and coordinating photographs. Recently Kabiru has begun to expand his work to include large non-body-based sculptures, installations, and collage.
Kabiru’s practice is deeply tied to Afrofuturism, a genre that combines science fiction, magical realism, and historical fiction with the culture and politics of the African diaspora. His work was featured in the newly released Gestalten publication Africa Rising: Fashion, Design and Lifestyle from Africa. You can see more of his eyewear and larger sculptures on Artsy and SMAC.
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Artist j.frede composes flea market photographs into custom built frames, creating visual and narrative landscapes from the previously unassociated materials. The works spread across the wall, building on each other through similar landscapes or horizon lines. The project, titled Fiction Landscapes, builds on the artist’s interest in memory, tapping into others’ momentos of the past to create fictionalized scenes of ambiguous origin.
Although each image has once been a placeholder in time for the photographer, once it gets collected into a mixed up bin at a flea market these associations are erased. “Arranging these into new landscapes that have never existed speaks to the stitching together of human behavior and how we relate to time and the past,” says Frede. “How many people have pulled over at that rest stop and taken nearly the same photo of the plain hillside? All locking their own associations into the view, first road trip with a new love; last road trip to see grandma; one of many road trips alone.”
The Los Angeles-based artist strictly uses anonymous photographs from the past for his works, never incorporating photographs of his own or individuals he knows. The memories he personally imbues into each composition in the series are instead ones he creates while making each arrangement, placing his own marker within the newly composed environment.
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Lithuanian artist Agne Gintalaite has always been attracted to the “garage towns” of her native Lithuania—large areas filled with storage units for cars that were terribly inconvenient and often bus rides away from the owners’ homes. In her series Beauty Remains, Gintalaite explores the multitude of garage doors she has discovered on her explorations, the brightly colored wooden and metal doors that look as if time has tried to claw them to pieces, yet their vibrancy withstands each passing year.
Her project began after a recent trip to IKEA revealed a sprawling garage town near the megastore filled with hundreds of examples of these doors that outlasted the time when IKEAs were nowhere to be found. “By documenting these objects that are, most likely, about to disappear from Lithuanian society, I wished to communicate to the viewer the ambivalent, aesthetic, but also human significance of these garage doors,” said Gintalaite. “Beautifully painterly, these doors do not need be explained to the beholder. It is the fascinating play of colour and texture that I attempted to capture with my camera.”
In documenting these doors the artist also found herself documenting human dignity as the owners continue to hold onto their property in areas in which big businesses increasingly impede on the urban landscape. “As long as they last,” said Gintalaite, “this uncanny beauty remains.”
Gintalaite received her BA in Art History and Theory from Vilnius Academy of Arts in Lithuania, and is currently a freelance photographer and art director. You can find more of her work on her Tumblr and Behance. (via My Modern Met)
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Digging through electronic refuse and found metal in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, Cyrus Kabiru refashions found materials into different wearable forms. Often these take the form of flamboyantly composed glasses, large eyewear that can often mask the entire face.
Kabiru explains that his glasses obsession started at a young age, and blossomed as his father crushed his dreams of owning his own pair. “When I was young, I used to admire real glasses but my dad was a bit harsh and he never wanted me to have real glasses. That’s the reason I started making the glasses.”
His creations situate themselves in several different areas of art, shuffling between performance, sculpture, and fashion—embodying the playfulness of the youth generation in Nairobi. “When you walk in town and you see someone with my glasses, the glasses will [get] all your attention,” said Kabiru. “If you have any stress it is like a therapy.”
In addition to his found object sculptures and glasses, Kabiru is a self-taught painter, his subject matter being humorous portrayal of contemporary Kenyan life. His most recent series uses thousands of bottle caps sewn together to depict African nature. “I really love trash. I try to give trash a second chance. I change it to be something else, which is like it will stay for more than 100 years now.” (via prosthetic knowledge)
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Kim Alsbrooks (previously) began painting historical portraits on crushed cans in 2004 while living in the South. The series “My White Trash Family” was born out of the frustration of prevailing ideologies of class distinction, ideas she decided to challenge by placing portraits of the past onto everyman’s consumerist leftovers. These paintings are typically depicted straight from 17th to 18th centuries, and tend to match the material environment they are placed upon (either through color choice, content, or both).
For each painting a gesso layer is applied first, followed by a drawn image in graphite, and finally oil paint and varnish. Alsbrooks only uses detritus she finds on the streets, faithfully sticking to cans that have already been trampled and crushed flat. Difficulty comes in finding the perfect cans, as they must be free of wrinkles that would impede upon on the paintings she places within the center of each surface.
Alsbrooks estimates that she has painted more than 700 of these portraits over the last 11 years, and the series will culminate with an exhibition at the Racine Art Museum in September of this year alongside jewelry maker Nikki Coupee. Alsbrooks often elaborates on the background of the portraits she paints, descriptions behind the portraits’ selection can be found on her blog here.
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