FASTFORWARDFOSSIL: Part 2 by Ellen Driscoll at Smack Mellon / Dumbo Art Festival 2009 / SML

This installation by Ellen Driscoll is so gigantic that I thought that only a video fly-through can really help experience the piece.

Two Solo Exhibitions
Exhibition dates: September 26 - November 8, 2009
Artists’ reception: Saturday, September 26, 5-8pm

Smack Mellon is pleased to present Ellen Driscoll’s installation FASTFORWARDFOSSIL: Part 2 and Fernando Souto’s photographic series The End of the Trail. The two concurrent solo exhibitions compress layers of time to explore industries and lifestyles that go beyond geographic borders. Composed of thousands of discarded plastic bottles collected by Ellen Driscoll, FASTFORWARDFOSSIL: Part 2 takes a critical look at the environmental and human damage inflicted by the oil and water industries in the last two centuries on regions as diverse as Nigeria and the United States. During extended trips to cattle ranches in the American West, Australia, and Uruguay, Fernando Souto photographed the fading culture of ranchers, creating black-and-white environmental portraits in the tradition of iconic photographers such as Walker Evans and Robert Frank. Both Driscoll and Souto are intimately tied to their craft—painstakingly cutting up salvaged bottles and printing large-scale silver gelatin photographs—asserting a tactile personal connection in their work.

Ellen Driscoll

“This installation is a continuation of a multi-year series which explores the dynamics of resource harvesting and consumption. This part of the series focuses on oil and water. Rising at 5:30 AM, I harvest #2 plastic bottles from the recycling bags put out for collection on the streets of Brooklyn. For one hour, one day at a time, I immerse myself in the tidal wave of plastic that engulfs us by collecting as many bottles as I can carry. The sculptural installation for Smack Mellon comprises 2600 bottles transformed into a 28 foot landscape. Constructed solely of harvested #2 plastic, the sculpture collapses three centuries into a ghostly translucent visual fugue in which a nineteenth century trestle bridge plays host to an eighteenth century water-powered mill which spills a twenty-first century flood from its structure. The flow contains North American, Middle Eastern, and African landmasses (sites of oil harvesting and their consumer destination) buoyed by a sea of plastic water molecules. The piece looks back to eighteenth century American industry powered by water, and forward to the oil refineries of the Niger Delta, site of prolonged guerilla warfare against oil corporations and the source of over fifty percent of crude oil for the United States—the oil that produces the plastic within which our privatized water is currently bought and sold.

The wall drawings in the exhibition are based on a close study of the inner workings of an oil refinery. By using huge shifts of scale between the macro and the micro, they depict a dystopic future based on rampant oil consumption. An oil rig shares the horizon with ocean fires and garbage scows, mega shopping malls are abandoned to spontaneous communities of slums, and a refugee camp is inundated by the waters of a melting glacier. The worlds in the drawings are drained of color, but filled with the flux and spillage of a potentially chaotic future.”

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