Perambulating the Bounds

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Chaos connections

Let's start with one thing I saw in a brief stop in Chelsea last week--photographs by Kay Hassan, a South African artist at Jack Shainman. They were photos of multi-colored debris that had floated onto a beach in Mozambique. Rags and plastic in wild range of colors function as abstract art in big, gorgeous pictures. But the seductive qualities of the images don't mask that it's a scene of devastation, human trash overrunning the landscape.

The next day I saw Pam Longobardi's show at Tinney in Nashville, which deals with a similar material, just a different ocean. In her case, she has collected debris that washed up in Hawaii, I guess some of the huge mass of human trash that has collected in the North Pacific Gyre. In the main work, she takes some of those artifacts and lines them up in groups on the wall, ordered roughly by size. It's a touching gesture, responding to this overwhelming, world-destroying chaos by trying to retrieve a little bit of it and put it in an order, straight lines, like with like, the utter opposite of what happens when the sea is forced to absorb our monumental wastefulness.

Chaos can be a source of energy and creativity--I like to think of it that way, because my life is an exercise in chaos. These two pieces put chaos back into the realm of destruction. The forces that produced these art works can't really be redeemed.

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