We’ve posted David Maisel’s work before. His aerial photographs of open mines depict the colorful transformation of polluted areas. His new project, Library of Dust, catalogues individual copper canisters containing the unclaimed remains of patients from the Oregon State Insane Asylum who died sometime between 1883 and the 1970s. Each canister’s chemical decay is uniquely colorful; the aesthetic resonates with transformation indicated in his aerial photography. “Among my concerns with Library of Dust are the crises of representation that derive from attempts to index or archive the evidence of trauma; the uncanny ability of objects to portray such trauma; and the revelatory possibilities inherent in images of such traumatic disturbances. While there are certainly physical and chemical explanations for the ways these canisters have transformed over time, the canisters also encourage us to consider what happens to our own bodies when we die, and to the souls that occupy them.”
Louise O’Rourke’s photographs document not just the idea of rejected beds as a form of waste, but more so, the repetition of intimate objects made sadly public with age, which moves her work into a particularly lonesome study of humanity’s careless romance with things.
From Toy Story to the Velveteen Rabbit, children’s literature seems to capitalize on a similar theme that O’Rourke tugs at here: because our beloved objects don’t age gracefully– or even at all– they get thrown away and easily replaced. We don’t even need to see the newer model to know that it is there. It is always there: lingering. Waiting. The job of an object is to selfishly service us until we are done with it. These are the rules. In this sense, objects can never win. Caught in limbo, O’Rourke’s wayfarer beds transition onto the street, heart exposed, welcoming vagrants or rodents. A sad Dickens’ death. It is not a story of waste, but love. Wherever the new bed is, the old bed is not, and will never be again.
However, there is a sign of hope. O’Rourke also notes the value of reinventing old finds such as discarded photographs, of which she peels at the emulsion, saving the scraps, to create a new context and authorship of the image, one that is more ephemeral or abstract.
She states, “By removing the emulsion, I further remove the photograph from the event and even claim the moments that stand out to me. By physically altering the found image with no negative to reprint from, I create my own narrative from those previously captured stories.”
Made from found objects and discarded clothing, Danny Treacy creates these haunting stiff figures that seemingly link Frankenstein and trash. In the “Them” series, this London based artist successfully creates a sculpture that is full of contradictions, Treacy describes these creatures as “soiled and stained and perfectly formed,victors and the victims, true and false.”
UK based Lindsey Gooden is a freelance illustrator and also contributes to a collective at Panther Club. Her collage work combines the digital and the hand drawn, exploring themes like seduction, freedom, hallucination, and transfiguration. I’m really enjoying her use of free-spirited colors and trippy compositions.