Saturday, September 05, 2009

In Ellenville, Torrent part deux

Week before last I installed the second of the Ellenville works.  Here's the statement I posted with the work:
The Ellenville Public Library's monthly book discussion for July was on Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  I read the book and partook in the discussion which was held on July 22.

This installation is based on the experience of reading the book and listening the reactions to it during the book discussion.

Water for Elephants traces a moment in the lives of folks living and working on an itinerant circus crew during the Great Depression.

What became clear to me during the discussion, was that the book unwittingly tapped into the trend in which financial analysts and commentators in the news have frequently compared the current economic and fiscal situation to the the crisis of the Great Depression. 
 These comparisons have abated somewhat since earlier in the year, but it illustrates the importance of memory and history in contextualizing our current state of being.  

This piece deals with those analogies of economic hardship, using a mixture of signals from the book and my own use of pattern and repetition which carries, for me, significance to familiar human activity and the flow and altering power of the passage of time. 

The topical backdrop of the book is further made current by the very nature of the 10x10x10 exhibit which specifically announces the economic reality of vacant storefronts around Ellenville, and one strategy - that of utilizing the currency of an art industry - to revitalize, reinvent, or simply enhance the economic and cultural landscape of a locale.

Like Ellenville, there are thousands of towns and cities that have set the table to entice fortune to drop in for dinner.
  In the novel, the circus is the institution that thrives on the sweat and sacrifice of the individuals who in turn are dependant on that institutional mechanism.  The disintergration of the circus in the novel is an apt metaphor for not only the recent financial collapse, but on a longer term, the fate of communities like Ellenville that have long hoped find a remedy that will fill its empty storefronts.
I had intended the work to utilize two tables that had been in the space everytime I'd visited since early May.  Since much of my painting recently has involved creating patterns, I was taken by the idea of creating a meandering checked tablecloth.  The tablecloth also seemed an apt image of thoughts of abundance and sustainance in a time when those concepts are of so much concern to many.   Of course, the day that I actually arrive with my tablecloth piece in hand, the tables are long gone.
In keeping with the spirit that guides the creation of my work, I improvised.  Using some large cable spools and air ducts lying around in the space to create new tables.  I initially felt this effect was more informal than I had hoped so I returned a week later with two tables.  
Now, I think a better solution that would be a hybrid of the two.  I prefer the substance that the presence of the spools offers, but the draping, particularly in relation to the cut out areas worked better with the actual tables.

No comments: