Two Imposing Cubes Covered in Yellow Plastic by Artist Serge Attukwei Clottey Respond to Global Water Insecurity
A mottled patchwork of plastic cloaks two cubes that tower over the desert landscape of Coachella Valley. Titled “The Wishing Well,” the bright pair are the work of Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, who created the nine-foot pieces from scraps of Kufuor gallons, or jerrycans, in response to shared struggles with water insecurity that ripple across the world. Resembling a yellow brick road, a paved walkway connects the two woven structures that stand in contrast to the surrounding environment, which faces continual struggles with access to the natural resource.
Clottey’s use of the material is tied to a larger critique of colonialism’s enduring legacy and the ways it continues to affect populations around the world, particularly in relation to the climate crisis. Originally, European colonialists brought Kufuor gallons to Ghana to transport cooking oil. Today, the plastic vessels are ubiquitous and used to haul potable water. “As repurposed relics of the colonial project, they serve as a constant reminder of the legacies of empire and of global movements for environmental justice,” says a statement about the work that’s part of Desert X, a biennial bringing site-specific installations to Southern California.
“The Wishing Well” is one facet of Clottey’s larger Afrogallonism project, which he describes as “an artistic concept to explore the relationship between the prevalence of the yellow oil gallons in regards to consumption and necessity in the life of the modern African.” The Accra-based artist works in a variety of mediums spanning installation, sculpture, and performance that deal with the broader influence of colonialism in Africa. You can see a larger collection of his pieces on Artsy and Instagram.
Share this story
Fueled with a sense of rebellion, yards of colorful tulle cascade from windows and down staircases in site-specific installations by Ana María Hernando. The soft, pliable material breaches existing architecture and entwines trees in swaths of mesh, creating works that are both visually striking and subversive.
Evocative of ballgowns and garments that are traditionally worn by women, the tulle explodes into a flood of fabric as a way to break with social constructions surrounding feminity. “As a Latina, I explore how the feminine comes forward in strength and flexibility, in beauty and in (an) unstoppable abundance of generosity,” the Argentinian artist says.
Though she’s worked with a range of materials, Hernando shares that she always incorporates a textile element, which seems “to be an expansive conduit for my work” and references her childhood in Buenos Aires, where she observed the women in her family sewing, crocheting, and embroidering together every day. She explains:
The things they made from fabric and thread were expressions of their spirit. All the beauty—the hours of work, the washing and ironing—was made invisible once the table was laid and stained with food. I explore the unacknowledged feminine force of work as a prayer that I have known my whole life.
Hernando mainly works from Boulder, although she’s spent much of the year so far in a forest in Tennessee’s South Cumberland Plateau. She’s represented by Robischon Gallery, Shark’s Ink, and Moving Art. If you’re in Colorado, view the artist’s multidisciplinary projects in the coming months as part of Present Box at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and in a September solo show at Denver Botanic Gardens. In 2022, you can find her at the Sun Valley Museum of Art and Denver’s Robischon Gallery. Until then, explore an archive of her tufted, textile-based projects on her site and Instagram. (via Cross Connect Magazine)
Share this story
In Tadao Cern’s sweeping installation “French Exit,” a cloud of feathery grasses looms over the room. The immersive artwork juxtaposes the ephemeral, dried material with the viewers who stand underneath as it creates a soothing and introspective space to consider the notions of farewells, whether it be the close of a party or more profound experiences, like the end of a relationship or death.
Cern tells Colossal that the title refers to the colloquialism about leaving a social gathering without saying goodbye. “This is something that I usually do because as an introvert, I can not bear with the attention that you get once you say that you have to go. A ping pong game starts of, ‘I have to go,’ and ‘please don’t go,'” says the Lithuania-based artist (previously) says.
Emitting a soft glow, the long-stemmed grasses connect to both the organic nature of the life cycle and the human desire to situate ourselves within a broader context, particularly when confronted by aging and death. Cern writes:
I tried to focus more on the aspect of what we would be missing the most during the last seconds of leaving this place.. My guess (is that) it would be something banal, like fields of wheat during the sunset… Banality is a result of such a strong love and affection with something/somebody that you even get sick of it. And hanging everything on the ceiling creates an illusion of floating for the viewer as if you are being taken to the sky.
Cern finished initial sketches for the installation—which also includes CGI elements and a massive arrow pointing downward—just before the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Months later, he was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, coincidental timing that altered his understandings of death and how we collectively say goodbye. “Once the pandemic is over, hopefully, we’ll have a chance to contemplate our farewells in reality. If there is such a thing,” he says.
Share this story
In just 12 days, Jakarta-based fiber artist Agnes Hansella fashioned a staggering trio of macramé installations that hang from a ceiling in Bali. Each of the knotted works spans more than 37 feet wide, cloaking the open-air structure in fringed fibers that evoke the coastal surroundings of Jimbaran. Titled “Mountain,” “Ocean,” and “Sunset,” the wall hangings reflect the natural environment through asymmetric patches reminiscent of coral, waves, and birds.
Alongside a team of artists she hadn’t worked with previously, Hansella cut manila ropes with a hacksaw and balanced on scaffolding to assemble the massive works. All three began with rough sketches and evolved on-site. “I was never good with drawing pictures, so the finished design is mostly something I came up with on location. I change them a lot based on my instinct and situation. With macramé techniques, the ropes have their own will and character so as the artist I follow them and see what can and can not work,” she tells Colossal. The trio was commissioned by Flowerbloom Studio.
Currently, Hansella is working on a smaller work for a villa in Bahrain and plans to explore tufting and fiber sculpture in the coming months. She sells macramé supplies, wall hangings, and functional objects in her shop, and you can follow her latest projects on Instagram.
Share this story
Spread across a thick field of leeks in the Netherlands is Daan Roosegaarde’s new installation that illuminates the practice of modern farming, highlighting the plants that feed us and their plights. In “Grow,” the Dutch artist and designer, who’s known for glowing, interactive exhibits, implanted the rows with red, blue, and ultraviolet lights that shine vertically across the crop and shift in entrancing motion.
Spanning 20,000-square-meters, the multi-faceted project is both aesthetic and practical: the radiant landscape is visually stunning, while the embedded elements enhance plant growth and cut pesticide use in half. Roosegaarde worked with existing photobiological technology and distinct “light recipes” that are thought to improve crop resistance and their metabolisms without added chemicals. “It gives a new meaning to the word ‘agri-culture’ by reframing the landscape as a living cultural artwork,” the studio says in a statement.
In a conversation with Dezeen, Roosegaarde noted that a trip to a local farm spurred the project, which the designer now hopes will act as a blueprint for similar works. The Netherlands is the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world—the U.S. is first—and is known for innovating more sustainable technologies. With some shifts in the combination of lights and placement, this singular project could have wide-reaching implications for crop production around the world.
“Grow” took Roosegaarde’s studio about two years to complete and is part of Rabobank’s artist-in-residence program. It’s slated to tour 40 countries in the coming months. For more of Roosegaarde’s work that falls at the intersection of art, design, and science, head to Instagram.
Share this story
Last week, artist Olafur Eliasson (previously) unveiled a massive, wave-like artwork that mimics the rippled surfaces of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Comprised of 1,963 curved tiles, “Atmospheric wave wall” sits between the two bodies of water at Willis Tower and shifts in appearance based on the sunlight, time of year, and position of the viewer. It’s the Danish-Icelandic artist’s first public project, which was curated by CNL Projects and commissioned by EQ Office, in Chicago.
Speckled with orange pieces, the blue-and-green motif is constructed with powder-coated steel and based on Penrose tiling, a design with fivefold symmetry, which fills the undulating border. At night, a light shines through the street-side work, emitting a glow through the tile seams and further altering the appearance of the textured facade. Eliasson says about the work:
Inspired by the unpredictable weather that I witnessed stirring up the surface of Lake Michigan, ‘Atmospheric wave wall’ appears to change according to your position and to the time of day and year. What we see depends on our point of view: understanding this is an important step toward realizing that we can change reality.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Science
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.