The Ruins (2011)

The Ruins came from conversations about essays and from separate investigations in media as varied as paraffin wax, light sculpture, looping video, and photos on metal. On exhibit at the Waters Gallery from March 10 - April 8, 2011

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A photo/video/light sculpture installation by collaborative artists Jan Kather and Tom Oberg; created for the George Waters Gallery's exhibition "Collaborative Works"

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Artist Statement

Although Tom and Jan may be best known for their collaborative piece featuring Barbie dolls floating in a kiddie pool, Memento Mori Mutely Murmur 2005, they have been working together for many years as founding members of the artist collective Rural Research Laboratories. The Ruins was inspired by discussions of readings that they had separately engaged in: Jan was reading T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Tom was reading a number of essays including those by Clement Greenberg and Walter Benjamin.

Tom: Greenberg fears "[the] pile up [and] welter of eccentric styles, trends, tendencies ... ." He sees it as the ruination of his world.

From The Waste Land

I. The Burial of the Dead

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, And the dry stone no sound of water. Only There is shadow under this red rock. (Come in under the shadow of this red rock). And I will show you something different from either Your shadow at morning striding behind you Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

This installation suggests destruction and decay out of which the promise of new life will grow. But then again, ask the artists another day, and they will surely have discovered new meanings and have recreated their ideas by arranging the installation into a different configuration.

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