Shopping “Infinitely”

Contemporary art often employs cutting-edge techniques, technologies, and materials, and our Infinite Island artists are proof in point. I would love to share some of the interesting materials coming in to the Museum as we get ready for the exhibition opening – just days away!

1200 AA batteries are used to light Bounty, a series of light boxes by Deborah Jack.

As mentioned in earlier posts, in many cases, I have been called upon to shop for materials, a task that can be simultaneously fascinating and frustrating. But at the end of the day, if the artist is pleased with what we have found, then all the hours of phone calls, internet searches, jaunts to thrift stores, and long truck rides out to New Jersey are worth it. Some of the items we collected are pretty extraordinary, and the way the artists have manipulated them for the finished pieces, even more so. Read on.

A wall of real leaves hangs behind Kuku (Kitchen), by Marcel Pinas – shipped to the Museum directly from the forests of Suriname.

The biggest challenge, in my opinion, was coordinating the delivery of 70 used car and truck tires for Kawtchou by Maxence Denis. You might have heard a bit about this from Nicole Caruth’s blog earlier this month, but I think the sheer magnitude of this task warrants another mention. The artist had specified not only the total number of tires he needed, but also the required diameter of each tire – ranging from 13″ to 26″ – and these precise instructions made it much more difficult to locate exactly what he wanted. We were very lucky that Anton Junicic Ent., Inc., a Brooklyn auto parts shop, was willing to collect the tires for us, and made three trips over with our big truck to transport them to the Museum. Special thanks to Robert Barclay, our dedicated truck driver, for all his help with this! The artist was very pleased, and so were we. The finished piece, which incorporates audio/visual elements, makes quite an imposing statement.

Tires for Kawtchou, by Maxence Denis, fill the Brooklyn Museum truck.

Another great accomplishment involved furniture-shopping for Spirit of the Caribe, an installation by Tirzo Martha. For this, all the credit goes to Dasha Chapman, our wonderful research assistant with an eye for a bargain. Like Kawotchou, this installation was completely recreated for the exhibition, and the artist needed new materials that matched his vision for the piece. Kudos to Dasha for biking around Brooklyn on the hottest day of the year in search of the perfect chair, loading coffee tables into the backs of cabs, and riding the truck out to New Jersey to pick up the bed frame she found on Craig’s List.

Chair and rug for Spirit of the Caribe, by Tirzo Martha.

Art handlers assemble the bed, to be used in Spirit of the Caribe, by Tirzo Martha.

Though this post focuses mainly on raw materials, I would like to include a sneak peak of the installation of Tirzo Martha’s work – I think you’ll be surprised to see what became of that bed:

Installation detail of Spirit of the Caribe, by Tirzo Martha.

That’s right; all the furniture now hangs on the wall, creating a vertical bedroom 12 feet high. I will leave the rest of the piece to your imagination for now; come and visit us to see the completed piece!

From 1200 batteries to 1000 feet of black cord, 85 cubic feet of packing peanuts to 7 cubic feet of beach sand, Infinite Island certainly breaks ground in its ingenious use of materials. We have just a few finishing touches to put on the show before we welcome you this Friday, August 31st! Mark your calendars for the opening!