Pink Elephants on Parade Review
The exhibition created by Nick van Woert, Pink Elephants on Parade; located in Church of Fine Arts made use of the concept of how humans interact and make use of various resources because it is a compelling subject that grabs the viewers’ eye. Throughout the exhibition there are eight sculptures and installations that have been placed at various parts of the room. At first glance, there appeared to be no correlating theme between any of the pieces in the gallery, however after proper scrutiny I could conclude the theme between the pieces was about resources, and the human interaction with the resources.
As you walk into the gallery, there is a sculpture that immediately greets your eyes at the door. From the backside which faces the viewer as the viewer walks into the gallery, it just looks like a messy black splatter, which intrigued me to figure out what the rest of the sculpture looked like around the side. After finding a different view, this piece appears to represent an unhealthy shift of power between man and nature. It seems as though the character in this sculpture is Poseidon, “Greek god of the sea”, that is covered in oil and is struggling to escape from this oil entrapment. Now the shift in power is that the artist is trying to tell the viewers that not even a god can escape the disastrous effects of human consumption of resources such as oil. I believe this piece could even be a reference to the most recent oil disaster that occurred that, four years later, is still having an effect and killing wildlife within the Mexican Gulf.
After moving further into the gallery, on the immediate right hand side of the room there seemed to be some sort of throne-like sculpture that was made out of various resources trapped in glass. In relation to the first piece involving oil and Poseidon, this sculpture appears to be taking on this idea that humans are in charge to a new level. This idea that if this sculpture is in fact representing a throne, this entails that the person imagined to be sitting on the throne is literally sitting atop of various resources. A throne, in other words, implies a monarchy or some sort of representation of power. That being said, have a throne made out of those various resources implies that the person that sits on this throne is representing the power humans have over using these resources.
While there is the use of resource consumption, this also implies the gravity of human development and industrial technology. There is a piece that is created out of stainless steel that lies on the ground as is in the middle of the gallery space. It looks as though this piece was created to represent the use of resources that has brought us so far as to create automobiles and other forms of heavy machinery, which as it exists, consumes resources to function as well. In this case, this looks to be an exhaust skeleton or frame that represents a car. That being said, a car use a notorious piece of machinery that is one of the main reasons as to why we produce and consume so much oil. Which, of course, makes a connection to that very first sculpture referencing an oil spill, which was due to our high demand for the consumption of oil.
The only piece that was actually hung up on the wall was a piece that was set in two separate but identical parts. This is one of the few pieces in the gallery that actually has a name, America Pine Bark. The dimensions of the frame are 84x58 inches and 3 inches thick. Inside of the frame of this piece, there is bark from a tree seamlessly placed within to create a flat surface. What I personally could not wrap my head around with this piece, was the idea of knowing that trees are round, and therefore bark is also rounded, but how could the artist possibly have flattened out the bark in such a way that made it seem like it was stuck on a flat canvas. Let alone, the fact that the bark seems to be just one big, unhindered piece that was placed there. There seems to be no such cracks or any marks or any visual signs whatsoever that implies that he simply patched a piece up with stray pieces of bark. Now in addition to that though, this piece took a while for me to make a connection with the rest of the work viewed in the gallery. There was no oil representation, no metal, no human-like interaction that appeared to be involved, simply all I saw was flattened bark in a frame on the wall. However, I began to realize that in the most literal sense possible, trees are in fact a resource. In this particular case, a tree was used as a resource to create art in a gallery to be viewed. Although, I do not think that this was the idea of representation that Nick van Woert had in mind when creating this piece, but I feel that it cleverly does symbolize and connect with the rest of the gallery.
In terms of how the gallery works were presented throughout, I believed some of the pieces to be presented effectively, however, other pieces I believed were presented very poorly. I thought it was great for that very first piece to be placed right near the doorway because that gives the viewer an immediate sense of what is going on. I also thought the American Pine Bark was installed very effectively as well. However, there were a few pieces in the gallery that it seemed like there was not much thought in terms of how or where they wanted to place them. Although, Nick van Woerts’ work was definitely effective regardless of placement and presentation, because it forced me, as a viewer, to think about each individual piece, and want to see more in the future.