Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tears of Mud... or Gold

Water is falling from the sky and the streets in the city are becoming torrents by the minute. Yesterday, I was flying over Holland...then, coming home, over the Louisiana swamps: same feeling of endless waters surrounding the land as far as the horizon.

The artists at The Front in New Orleans, are talking about one of the essential element of life and its interaction with humans.
The first room looks like the cavern from "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" with containers filled with swampy water. The installation from Brandon Ballengee and Andrew Pasco, 2011, called "Tears of Oshun", refers to a benevolent, generous and kind goddess of the Yoruba religion... with a temper. Isn't it the definition of water, essential to life but also creating havoc and death? The installation makes us feel like water is a new commodity, stored in barrels, so scarce. Could it become the new gold? Too much? Not enough? Potable?Polluted? "Tears of Oshun" is a stark reminder of a worsening problem, the imbalance between the resource and the population.

Walking through a labyrinth of barrels, the visitor reaches the second room, where John Kleinschmidt and Andy Sternad redesigned the floor of the gallery with stone-like decorations. I feel like jumping from one to another...which I do. The flooring is a decoy created with plastic containers filled with water. The result is a squishy, uneven ground and I am sinking. It becomes very realistic with each step producing a watery noise. This is a reminder, what we see from the sky is very deceptive. The land with the shrubs, the trees, is...wetlands and keeps being erroded to a critical point.

Good water, bad water, tears of mud or gold?
Photographs by the author

"Tears of Oshun" Ballengee, Pasco, 2011

Installation, Andy Sternard and John Kleinsmidt

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