An incomplete list of the components of “I’ll Cavern You”
Suburban house in South Oak Park
Enclosed windowed back porch
Linoleum tiles – cracked from the sun
White soapy paint on window
Text from a letter by John Keats
Small conch shell on windowsill
Flat wooden triangle painted turquoise
Green paint wad
White upside-down bucket with metal bucket on top
Three bucket fountain system
Running water (cycling through transparent hose system)
A blue semi-transparent bucket with a brick-colored brick weighing it down
Painted hot pink foam yellow duct-taped to the yellow bucket
Reticent objects perched on the inside lip of the yellow bucket
Flourishing strawberry plant in clay pot (borrowed from the house)
Saguaro-esque cactus plant in clay pot (borrowed from the house)
Red and blue abstraction painted/printed on cut pink foam
A magazine clipping - photo of a woman/actress (early 1980’s) lounging on a
floral couch in a densely baroque and dimly lit atmosphere – the image is
wrapped around a small paperback book-like object and taped with blue
masking tape. The object is nestled amongst some shells in the clay pot
containing the tall saguaro-esque cactus.
Somewhat hidden spider (?) plant (borrowed from the house)
The text “I’ll Cavern You” is removed from the soapy white paint on the West-
facing window; perhaps with a finger. Loopy girlish lettering. As the sun passes
over the house, sunlight passes through the letters and prints them on the floor
and eventually, toward twilight, the Eastern wall of the porch.
A backyard garden
I make a list of things and the things make a pile atop of which I can see that I am looking. Each thing has its own expression and the expression comes from outside the thing. Listing is movement. Listing to find orientation, achieve ocular dominion over a space I am inside. Fernando Pessoa, who was many authors, wrote “A spiral is a snake without a snake, vertically wound around nothing” and I earthbound reply that a list is the string tethering that terrible kite to a grip. It is tiresome to wobble always on a calm sea, but I’m bound to reckon with myself later, so the sooner I resurface the more I’ll bide my time. To abide is to live and one lives inside an abode, an abiding space.
Dana proposes that “I’ll Cavern You” means that I will turn you into a cavern, (and I am to infer that as I cavern I can be fucked) but I reply that to make cavern a verb is to enclose the object inside the cavern, although perhaps that would be a different verb – to encavern as to envelop, so I propose “I’ll Velope You.” The wiki-dictionary suggests I mean “elope,” and subsides. The most difficult part of writing is deciding who I am. Once this decision has been made, and a voice has been established, the writing is sometimes effortless. Some time passes, and the sun passes over this small suburban house. Is I the sun or the house that protects me from the sun.
On the experience of landscape, Robert Smithson writes, “…You are confronted with an extending horizon; it can extend onward and onward, but then you suddenly find the horizon is closing in all around you, so that you have this kind of dilating effect. In other words, there is no escape from limits. There is no real extension of scale taking place simply by spreading materials inside a room.” and, but “Could one say that art degenerates as it approaches gardening?” Which statement, away from art and toward gardening, degenerative as it is, allows me to assert authority; as I tend plants, and this exhibits nurturing tendencies, and Smithson’s intentions here becoming irrelevant as art recedes and care steps forward. Who will care for the plants in Michelle Wasson’s exhibition? A question quickly answered by Holly Holmes, the gallerist and homemaker in residence at What It Is. “The plants belong to us.”
Potted plants, unlike those rooted in the ground, do not take the ground as their ground. The pot, or container is ground, yet a pot, containing half the plant, is also figure. The mutually limiting relationship of shoots to roots in the environment of a pot is clear and hence dismissable. Container gardens, unlike outdoor gardens, are not about growth, but rather feedback systems. And yet Being offers us no ground and no basis to which we can turn, on which we can build, and to which we can cling. Being is the rejection of the role of such grounding; it renounces all grounding, is abyssal. Machines do not grow and change themselves. What if plants in art are substitutes for computers: silent, seemingly sentient companions in the domestic environment.
In making a garden, according to Rousseau, the designer is reduced to inflicting some violence on nature. Michelle Wasson arranges ready-mades to look like raw materials. Casual placement is preferred over aggressive transformation. The purpose of a system is what it does. The helpless feeling you have when waiting for your lover. A hint of dissatisfaction; the delicate glow of fading rays clinging to the surface of a dusky wall. Fountains are recommended for the places where energy levels have been stagnant for a while. The flow of energy is encouraged, and the sound and motion of the running water activates Chi. And Wasson’s finger-painting tracing its stuttering path across the prisoner’s cave-screen. I'll cavern you. And time passes.
1. Fernando Pessoa The Book of Disquiet 1998
2. Robert Smithson, Fragments of An Interview with P.A. [Patsy] Norvell (1969)
by Molly Zuckerman-Hartung
Frequently the Woods are Pink, catalog available fall 2010