Made a trip up to The Guggenheim last week and was wowed by the show “Asterisms” by the Mexican-born artist Gabriel Orozco. He has created sculptural and photographic installations from rubble he gathered on two sites in New York and in Baja California, Mexico. Got me thinking about something amazing I had encountered years ago while living in Australia– the lair of a male blue Satin Bowerbird .
Long story, but while living in Sydney, my sister (an avid bird-watcher) visited and arranged a day-long excursion with an ornithologist. In a quiet little patch of urban park land we came upon the most bizarre work of nature I have ever encountered– a field of blue “stuff” scattered in a large circle with an elaborate thatch structure in the middle (think Blair Witch Project for birds).
Bowerbird males are masters of seduction who lure their females into elaborately built bowers where mating will take place. Their favored color is blue and they collect and decorate their “pads” with all sorts of blue colored detritus– most of it, small found objects of plastic like bottle caps, clothes pins, straws. If you are dying to know more, tune into this little video “Bower Bird“.
Which brings me to the Gabriel Orozco Asterisms exhibit at The Guggenheim– similar to the Bower Bird “show” but a bit more organized. The artist actually found these tiny bits of detritus in the astroturf of a field near Pier 44 in NYC. The ~beauty~ is in the arrangement– objects carefully spaced and organized by size and color.
No purposeful “mating” motive here, but seductive nonetheless.
And on to the display of objects found in the waters of Baja Mexico (photos below). Again, Orozco has placed the objects in a large field decreasing with size and organized by color– an amazing collection of driftwood, stones, floats, lightbulbs, bottles and even toilet paper rolls encased in plastic.
And there are other artists who work with “found” objects and “everyday trash” . Take a look at the work of Portia Munson:
What do you think of this aesthetic? Heaps of rubble… found objects…litter…lovely trash? Or as Ken Johnson, in his review of Asterisms in the New York Times remarked, “The idea is that something greater than the sum of its parts will emerge.”