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Art for Our Sake
Sarah Rich, 10 Jun 07
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I've recently been introduced to two artists who use large-scale installations to provoke awareness and shift public perspective on current social and environmental crises. They hit a point of synergy in two works that both feature shelters destroyed by water -- one directly related to New Orleans and Katrina, and the other sparking the same associations through the archetype of Atlantis. Both artists strive to incite action towards sustainability and social justice with a visual jolt to the system.

Takashi Horisaki: A Latex Replica of a NOLA Shotgun House, Post-Katrina

When artist Takashi Horisaki left his native Japan, he moved to New Orleans to spend his first three years in America earning an BFA at Loyola University. He left before Katrina ravaged the area, and returned in 2006 to discover "how seriously those of us living outside of the victimized area fail to grasp the reality of the tragedy suffered by New Orleans and the lethargic pace of recovery." So he decided to help outsiders get a better perspective by creating a sculptural replica of a condemned house in the Lower 9th Ward.

This is a continuation of a series Horisaki calls Social Dress (this one being called Social Dress New Orleans -- 730 Days After). He plans to coat the house in latex, then peel it off and transport it for exhibition in New York's Socrates Sculpture Park. But the Army Corps of Engineers is trying to demolish the place before he can complete the endeavor. He's keeping a blog about the project of you want to follow the ongoing contention between art and the authorities.

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Tea Mäkipää: A Drowning House and a Burning Car

When I met Tea Mäkipää in the United Arab Emirates in April, she had just completed a journey from Germany, by way of train, bus, ferry and cargo ship, arriving in the UAE without ever boarding a plane. Such is her dedication to reducing her own impact on the planet. Her art work, too, displays the consequences of human impact, and implores viewers to consider how they might achieve a smaller footprint.

Her new work, Atlantis -- an outdoor installation currently on exhibit in Finland of a house drowning in a flood -- is a "reminder of the vulnerability of our modern lifestyle...No sounds of worry or emergency can be heard, but sturdy neglecting of the catastrophic circumstances."

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Another of her new works, Motocalypse Now, consists of two installations that herald (or demand) the end of the petrol era.

Motocalypse shows a Mercedes car transformed into a grave monument of itself. Like a sarcophagus or tombstone, the car is covered with ivy and other vegetation and is slowly being consumed by natural processes. A marble plate, partly visible through the ivy, reads, «Petrol-Fueled Car, 1885 — 2010, Rest in Peace». The installations intone a requiem for the extraordinary success of petrol-fueled cars. This petrol era was proven very effective and beloved by masses, but in the long run too harmful towards the environment. The end of the petrol culture has reached its final moments, and in the installation this is celebrated by a roaring and boisterous swansong.
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