Lou Wright (American, 1989)
Found materials, French square glass vials, salvaged wood, low-VOC stain, galvanized steel brackets, sand, ash, sawdust, adhesive, index cards, ink
16” x 18”
When we were on the canal, all of us were struck by the material scale of the place. The industrial world, like the natural one, takes place on a spatial scale that most individuals do not experience in their daily lives, and to be immersed in the confluence of these environments - natural and industrial - is very unlike any other urban experience. The stratification of rust, lime, and algae on the iron bulkheads recorded the tidal rise of the canal, commemorating the repetition inherent in a place like this. Water comes in and out, cement mixers turn around and around. Oil derricks far away pulse up and down, subway cars skitter back and forth. Our lives, as we live them, seem like linear progressions of moments, things that happen once, preceded and followed by different things. But on the Gowanus, everything that is happening has happened before, and will happen again.
In my work, I tried to capture some of the weird materiality of the Canal, but also to communicate its uniqueness and totality. It is, like any other place, a ‘total’ phenomenon (as Norberg-Schulz writes) that cannot be reduced to its components, so the only articles that can be brought into a work of art are naturally telling an incomplete story. By presenting them in a way that connotes authority and care, I attempted to communicate and highlight the way in which material can be false even though it is often perceived as the final location of truth. Juxtaposing this presentation with visual effects that connote age and abandonment, the ideas of repetition and long spans of time are also engaged.
At the end of the day, the Gowanus Canal is more than the sum of its parts, and is irreducible to components. But so is this exhibition.