Monday, April 9, 2012

Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design

Really wishing I could just hop on a bus right now and go see the exhibition Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design, at the Museum of Art and Design in New York.
Following in the same vein as exhibitions such as Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting and Slash: Paper Under the Knife, Swept Away is the first exhibition of its scope to examine the artistic potential of ephemeral materials. 
This exhibition showcases the work of 25 international artists who transform dust, ash and dirt through the lens of both literal and abstracted interpretations into intricate and poignantly beautiful installations, sculptures, paintings, photographs and performances. The 34 featured works - 13 of which have been commissioned specifically for the exhibition, are created through the collection, removal and reconstitution of ephemeral matter, exposing, in many cases, the debris of human existence. On view from February 7th through August 12th 2012, the exhibition will include a series of 'live' installations that will allow museum goers to interact with artists and their works. Here is a brief look at some of the works in the exhibition:

Studio Glitherto - Burn Burn Burn

For Burn Burn Burn, we created a flammable paint, which in composition resembles the material of matchstick heads. The paint was invented in our kitchen and optimized with the help of the chemist.

In the work, a flame moves slowly over the wall, dances on the floor, up the chairs, down the table legs, where a trace of charred black remains. Inspired by Fred Astaire's Ceiling Dance, the flame traces a dancing path across the room, connecting and unifying objects.

Phoebe Cummings - Flora

Working predominantly in unfired clay, Phoebe constructs pieces directly on site as temporary installations or interventions within a space. In her work she explores material processes and the implications of intense labour on the temporal eventuality of the works existence. Often the pieces only come to exist as a photograph or a memory.

Elvira Wersche - Electron

Over the course of the past ten years, Elvira Wersche has been collecting coloured sands from over 600 places around the world. In her work she uses her sand samples to create a series of temporary, site-specific installations that trace-out of intricate geometric patterns and polygonal shapes across the floor.

Wersche working on an installation in progress:

Alaxandre Orion - 'Reverse Graffitti'
Soot from automobile exhaust, cleaned off of a tunnel wall in Sao Paulo.

Orion  is a Brazilian graffiti artist and photographer whose work has an intrinsic relationship with the city, either as a subject, or using it as a stage for his art. In his work he creates 'reverse graffiti' murals by selectively scraping off layers of dirt and black soot deposited on the walls of tunnels and public spaces.


  1. No Cal Lane's Dirt Lace? I'm surprised! This looks like a fantastic show!

  2. I think she may have been featured in one of their previous exhibitions, curated along the same vein... but yeah! that work would have been perfect!