Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"With us or against us" lamp

The US Embassy in Managua donated hundreds of these white plastic quasi-cylindrical containers to the NGO that hosts Nicology. The NGO used a few as pencil-holders, but couldn't find any further use for them, especially as there was a small hole at either end. They were on the verge of selling the rest to recycled materials consolidators at the dump when I walked into the office and saw... lampshades! If Ikea can do it, why couldn't we? This is one of our first experiments, using a piece of driftwood as a base. My collaborator, an electrician who also scavenges in the dump, created additional bases out of cologne bottles shaped like cowboy boots, and we tried a few pendant and wall lamps using multiple shades.

Then one day I opened a new box of shades, and an instruction card fell out that. Gas Masks! These were the shipping containers for the hundreds of gas masks supplied to the US embassy! The Embassy workers were protected in the event of a biological agent, nerve gas, or other aerosol attack, in NICARAGUA, but when I called the US Citizen Emergency line during a riot after my passport was stolen, it went directly to voice mail. For over 12 hours. At least you can buy a lamp!

Tub Shiva

Please see previous entry for context. Tub Shiva was printed life-size on vinyl, to be installed in the bottom of the same bathtub where the shots were taken, then filled with water and surrounded with candles. Tub Shiva would be encountered by gallery-goers who entered the rest room.

Monday, April 13, 2009


This image was created as a solution to a logistical problem: how to do a site-specific performance that intervenes in the spaces of an empty house without being at the site in person during the show. As video did not feel sufficiently tangible I decided to condense several mini-performances into composite photos, print them somewhat larger than life-size, and install them in the house/gallery. The composites are deliberately crude, with no effort to hide the edges of each piece. I was interested in leaving as much evidence of my physicality as possible, much as painters started to leave brushmarks visible to draw attention to the act of painting.
This image was meant to lie on the floor in the hallway, leaving viewers to decide whether to step on my image, or walk around it. The image was also seen floating in a 3-feet-deep long rectangular pool of water filling one of the house's courtyards, recalling Arthurian legends and inebriated party hallucinations in equal measure.
In the end neither my images nor I could participate in the show, as I was in a tragic car accident the week prior and on house arrest. Ironically, my stunned expression and fractured body, created weeks earlier out of light impulse and improvisation, portrayed eerily well my state of mind during those almost unbelievable days.

The Coke Side of the Revolution

"The Coke side of Life". "El lado Coca Cola de la vida". A recent public health study found that Nicaraguan children drink more Coca Cola than water. When families have only a couple dollars a day to spend on feeding their families, they spend up to half of it on Coke. Of all the exotic or pretty bottle caps we've used to make jewelry in Nicology, the best-seller by far is Coke keychains, earring, and necklaces. Although the silouette of Sandino watches over Managua and tha Sandinista party spends large amounts on publicity extolling the ongoing revolution, I think it is Coca Cola that has won the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of the Nicaraguan people.

I mounted several of the Aspire-Acquire designs on circular canned food lids, then sealed with resin to make coasters. Coasters, being fairly trivial products, and used in bars for advertising, seem an appropriately ironic vehicle for these images.