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James Carl
fountain

May 14 - September 30, 1997

Artist Statemtent

"Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert."

Donna Haraway, "A Manifesto For Cyborgs", Socialist Review #80, 1985.

In creating a piece of public art for this very specific, yet wholly generic environment, I considered some of the slippery divisions and distances that the contemporary sculpture garden embodies. It is a model space for a visual consideration of the distances between nature and culture, public and private, organism and machine. Equally, the garden evokes reflection upon the boundaries dividing introspection from circumspection; service from servility; the syn-aesthetic from the an-aesthetic; the hybrid from the mutt.

From one perspective, fountain can be read as an acting-out of precepts and regulations associated with the public behavior and the urban garden. The piece grafts conventions of the traditional garden with materials, laws and social gestures of contemporary public life. It takes root in codes -- electrical, civil, horticultural, aesthetic -- and it accepts these as its first principles and material resources. It attempts to make object those regulatory axioms which define its social and historical situation. fountain is a monument to obeyance; it dispenses observance; and through its complicity and compliance, attaches itself to the site and to the world.

As a socio-horticultural oddity (read: public garden sculpture), fountain considers the polyp as a formal model. It is borne of a host which it imitates and with which it enters into a symbiotic, ostensibly unthreatening, relation. Yet, like the benign tumor (or the common burl), the work gives pause for doubt, elicits speculation upon an unspecified disorder and embodies a certain, if supple, resistance.

James Carl, fountain, 1997; vending machines; 72" H x 33" D x 30'L

* Recipient of one of the two Viewer's Choice Awards, 2006