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Average Utopia / Interlude Oasis: 2006

New York, USA

Average Utopia – I imitated a reflected sunset in fiberglass, pigmented resin and acrylic paints (25ftx7ft). Then, I rowed around the pond with my sunset attached, on a rather rainy day. Other people were invited to do the same. The sunset was then installed in the pond, so as to exist all day and night, critiquing notions of immediate gratification, and desire robbed of time.

Average Utopia – I imitated a reflected sunset in fiberglass, pigmented resin and acrylic paints (25ftx7ft). Then, I rowed around the pond with my sunset attached, on a rather rainy day. Other people were invited to do the same. The sunset was then installed in the pond, so as to exist all day and night, critiquing notions of immediate gratification, and desire robbed of time.

Average Utopia. Details – fiberglas, pigmented resins.

Daytime view of Installed sunset.

Details – Average Utopia. Fiberglas, pigmented resin.

Process – Average Utopia

Average Utopia. Rowing the sunset

Interlude (Oases) – I used the holes and other depressions in the sidewalk as moulds and cast clear resin puddles over inserted acrylic on canvas paintings. Calculated to perspective, these resembled reflections (varying from 3 ft to 4.5 ft in length). As viewers walked down Houston Street they encountered several reflective puddles as if it has just rained, but disturbingly displaced in space and time as none of them matched up to the surrounding environment.

Interlude (Oases) – I used the holes and other depressions in the sidewalk as moulds and cast clear resin puddles over inserted acrylic on canvas paintings. Calculated to perspective, these resembled reflections (varying from 3 ft to 4.5 ft in length). As viewers walked down Houston Street they encountered several reflective puddles as if it has just rained, but disturbingly displaced in space and time as none of them matched up to the surrounding environment.

Interlude (Oases) – I used the holes and other depressions in the sidewalk as moulds and cast clear resin puddles over inserted acrylic on canvas paintings. Calculated to perspective, these resembled reflections (varying from 3 ft to 4.5 ft in length). As viewers walked down Houston Street they encountered several reflective puddles as if it has just rained, but disturbingly displaced in space and time as none of them matched up to the surrounding environment.

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Average Utopia, 2006, Hudson Valley, NY.
In Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince”, the prince talks of his tiny planet. It is so small that by shifting his chair every few minutes to compensate for its rotation he can always look onto a sunset sky. This project is born of an interest in the idea of controlled environments. Being in Chicago spurred a body of work that subtly subverted the idea of manicured, manipulated nature always maintained at its ‘best’. The tulips on Michigan Avenue are planted in full bloom and removed before they can wither up for fear of the ‘flaw’ in the ideal function they are meant to serve. ‘Beauty’ is handed out at its decided climax in the trees trimmed to same height, the weed-less sidewalks and genetically manipulated flowers. I thought of the Sunset as a climactic moment and wondered what it would be like to always have it – In both a poetic and a critical way. The stagnant sunset project springboards from this idea of fast delivery, faster gratification. It questions the pre-conditions for desire, more than the final object of it. It presents the epitome without anticipation or completion, thus displacing it from time.

Interlude Oasis – Art in Odd Places, 2006, New York, NY.
“Interlude Oasis” filled unconsidered ‘gaps’ between the origin and destination of daily commuters/ users of urban space by creating opportunities for surprise, contemplation, and consideration in places that had previously been merely ‘on the way’ to something else. Neither inventing radically new visual realities for the viewer, nor displacing his or her location in space by attempting to evoke a different one, the project simply pointed out visual phenomena that already exists in these places – just at a different time.

Consistently “stopped” elements at essentially “go” places; the proposed interventions sought to collapse the division between journey and destination, and the bracketing of attentive vision. Both Average Utopia and Interlude Oasis, use the armature of immediate gratification as a springboard – “Bypass the journey and sustain the climax” seems to often be the order of the day. In urban environments the assumption is that people have no time to wait, no patience to unravel underlying subtleties and no attention span to notice things beyond the frame of functional vision. Messages are often constructed for quick , simplistic delivery, flowers planted in pre-determined colours and patterns, and nature assigned a role of “functional” or “aesthetic” – as “allowed” by the Urban planner. How does one ask to slow down and really look at things? How does one ask to re-investigate territories taken for granted?

Cracks and depressions in the sidewalk, fissures in roads and tiny gaps between floorboards have frequently been the sites of inspiration (& direct intervention) for my work. They function as flaws, as unplanned houses for microcosmic activity and a rather satisfying perversion of doctored urban space. For me, these spaces are little fractures in a culture that often attempts to generate a fallacy of control over the environment – a fallacy, perpetrated by the highly manicured natural environment. The project was a gentle reminder that a singular vantage point isn’t enough and neither is the first quick interpretation; that sometimes it is useful to centralize things not just relegated to peripheral vision but also peripheral considerations. By using the “accidents” or byproducts of our systems and mainstream values, the project took a little poke at the clear visual value placed on the climactic, ever-blooming nature, presented at its “best” in Urban USA.