Suspended in public squares and parks, the knotted sculptures that comprise Janet Echelman’s Earthtime series respond to the destructive, overpowering, and uncontrollable forces that impact life on the planet. The artist (previously) braids nylon and polyurethane fibers into striped weavings that loom over passersby and glow with embedded lights after nightfall. With a single gust of air, the amorphous masses billow and contort into new forms. “Each time a single knot moves in the wind, the location of every other knot in the sculpture’s surface is changed in an ever-unfolding dance,” a statement about the series says.
The outdoor installations are modeled after geological events so catastrophic and powerful that they slightly impact the planet’s rotational speed. Each title refers to the number of seconds shaved off the earth’s day because of that occurrence, with “Earthtime 1.78” referring to Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami and “Earthtime 1.26” speaking to a 2010 tremor in Chile.
Containing innumerable knots and weighing hundreds of pounds, the monumental nets are the product of countless hours and a team of architects, designers, and engineers who interpret scientific data to imagine the original form. Each mesh piece begins in the studio with techniques done by hand and on the loom, and the threads are custom-designed to be fifteen times stronger than steel once intertwined. This allows them to withstand and remain flexible as they’re exposed to the elements, a material component that serves as a metaphorical guide for human existence.
Echelman will exhibit an iteration of “Earthtime 1.26” in Jeddah from December 2021 to April 2022, with another slated to be on view in Amsterdam this winter. You can see more of the prolific artist’s works on her site and Instagram.
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Japanese artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV threads strips of bamboo together into monumental works that appear to grow from walls and ceilings. His hollow, circular creations utilize a style of rough weaving that his family has practiced for generations—Tanabe’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all worked with traditional craft techniques and shared the name Chikuunsai, which translates to “bamboo cloud”—and result in installations that are massive in scale as they coil across rooms, stretch dozens of feet into the air, and loop around support beams.
Because his family has been steeped in the practice for decades, Tanabe began weaving as a child, and today, he continues to build on the traditions he learned early on, expanding from smaller baskets and pods to larger, site-specific works made with the pliable wood material. “The appearance of my grandfather weaving a basket was very beautiful and elegant. I felt art. Now I feel that bamboo is the most beautiful material, and I believe that bamboo art has endless possibilities,” he tells Colossal.
Tanabe currently lives in Sakai, near Osaka, and will show his spiraling constructions at the Baur Foundation in Geneva from November 16, 2021, to March 27, 2022. You can see more of his projects on Instagram.
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Artist Thierry Mandon Lives in Suspended Domestic Scenes Within the Ghost Rooms of Severed Buildings
Multidisciplinary artist Thierry Mandon casts himself as the subject of his satirical works as he reads in a bed hazardously suspended feet above the ground or sips a glass of wine at a halved dining table. The humorous and discomforting pieces, titled “Inside–Outside” and “Tableau vivant,” respectively, unveil a series of slow, solitary activities that, once outdoors, become a performative spectacle rather than a mundane moment. They speak to Mandon’s “search for harmony and for a stable unity between humans and their environment,” he says, as he literally slices and adheres domestic objects to a building’s facade.
“Each video portrays a character that, as a kind of archetype of the individual, is confronted by his human condition, his limits, his power, and helplessness,” Mandon writes to Colossal. “These themes are rendered by works where two elements, two worlds are exposed in a precarious balance.”
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Entangled Figures Grasp a Small Footbridge Above a Philadelphia Street in Miguel Horn's New Installation
Clinging to a concrete footbridge in Philadelphia are two groups of figures in tangled clusters. The striking installation is attached to a 20-foot walkway arched over 1200 Cuthbert Street in City Center and is the latest work of artist Miguel Horn, who is known for his fragmented sculptures and large-scale installations comprised of CNC-cut plates. Each of the forms in “ContraFuerte” features topographic layers constructed with thousands of stacked aluminum pieces—Horn shares much of his process from initial sketches to clay prototypes on Instagram—which fuse together to create figures that appear in the midst of struggle. Similar to the artist’s previous works that directly respond to their location, the oversized piece is designed to “grapple with the task to sustain, or raise up a bridge that spans the width of the street,” Horn says. (via Streets Dept)
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A deceptively trippy installation by Chicago-based duo Luftwerk (previously) immerses viewers in a distorted environment of color and sound. Relying entirely on physical properties for its illusions, Open Square connects two spaces that are painted with clean, angled blocks of color in cool and warm tones. Prismatic LED lights flash across the rooms, skewing their boundaries and creating perpetually changing settings that appear to emerge and fade over time.
The abstract installation is part of Factory Installed 2021, a group exhibition at Mattress Factory on view now through November 14. One of five projects, Luftwerk’s Open Square transforms the historic building into a kaleidoscopic experience that’s “designed to mesmerize and shed the outside world, holding limitless possibilities for exploration,” a statement says. “Developed throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020, the exhibition reflects on the habitat that defines our everyday experience.”
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Thousands of Fresh and Artificial Flowers Overrun an Abandoned Convenience Store in a Small Michigan Town
Port Austin, Michigan, is a picturesque village on the Lake Huron shoreline lauded for its beaches, water sports, and vegetable-shaped rock formations. With a population in the hundreds, the small community relies heavily on tourism to fund its economy, a reality Detroit-based botanical artist Lisa Waud contended with in a recent pop-up installation in one of the town’s abandoned convenience stores.
Titled “Party Store”—this colloquialism refers to a small shop selling snacks, alcohol, lottery tickets, and other cheap staples—the immersive project transforms a dilapidated space into a lush garden of fresh-cut flowers grown in Michigan and artificial replicas sourced from resale shops around the state. A water-damaged drop ceiling, stained carpeting, and wood paneling peek through the colorful botanicals, which envelop a commercial coffee machine, crawl across shelving, and bulge out of dimly lit coolers.
Similar to her other site-specific works like her 2015 transformation of a condemned duplex in Detroit, Waud describes “Party Store” as a “cleansing reset,” one that uses the tension between life and decay as a prompt to consider cultural understandings of permanence and disposability. She references pieces like Robin Frohardt’s grocery store stocked with plastic food and Prada Marfa as influences, two large-scale projects that criticize consumerism through their satirical imitations of common and luxury goods. “In spending time in Port Austin, I recognized a similarity between its tourism culture and that of my hometown of Petoskey,” Waud writes in a statement. “The local economy relies on the tourists, but often the folks who come can have a ‘disposable’ quality to their visit, exemplified in the increase of consuming convenient items—often packaged in single-use plastic.”
“Party Store” was dismantled after its July 16-18 run, when many of the materials were recycled or reused. “By installing flowers that will ultimately be composted into a space that historically sells items that cannot be biodegraded, I hoped to bridge a connection for responsible choice-making in its visitors’ future,” the artist says.
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