The installation consists of scavenged chairs, refurbished and sanitized, with commemorative plaques fastened to their backs, plus a map of where they were found, all in various locations in NYC.
This project has it all: love of trash a la Slavoj Zizek, material memory, exaltation of humble objects.
This relational aesthetics-genre piece not only activates relationships and conversations among gallery visitors who lounge on the chairs. It encompasses the whole web of relationships around their provenance: where the chairs were originally purchased, who bought them, the imagined event of their damage or the slow advance of rust or the going out of style, the decision to discard, and finally their placement on a curb in New York where the artists found them.
In a statement, the artists align their practice with a traditional hunter-gatherer way of life. Agnes Varda explores a similar concept in her movie “The Gleaners and I”, about modern scavengers of food and materials. Roger Ebert writes in his review:
In our alley we see men searching through the refuse for treasure. “The Gleaners and I” places them in an ancient tradition. Since 1554, when King Henry IV affirmed the right of gleaning, it has been a practice protected by the French constitution, and today the men and women who sift through the dumpsters and markets of Paris are the descendants of gleaners who were painted by Millet and Van Gogh.”
There’s something wonderful about finding use-value in castoffs. Finding artistic value in their re-use takes it a step further.