As I walked the aisles of New York's Affordable Art Fair this past weekend, hoping to meet artists who'll someday become the mainstays of the auction scene, a powerful installation stopped me dead in my tracks. Black paint dripped from a white orb, which was suspended above a pile of once-white everyday household items. A milk carton and shoe, among other things, slowly turned black, as did the map of the world upon which they rested. An entanglement of pipes spread out from the dirtying action, and a quiet man sat on the floor beneath one of them, looking content and relaxed.
So, I had to interrupt his piece.
This is how I met Kamol Akhunov, the artist responsible for "Earth Leak". Inspired by the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Akhunov's installation drives home the message that a disaster thousands of miles away can affect our daily lives, as suggested by the black paint falling upon the pile of household goods, as well as the map beneath them.
That there is no barrier – no outside force – to impede the slow, methodical dripping hints at the powerlessness the planet and society face. Even without a gush, the amount of black paint accumulated on the white targets shows how damage can build quickly before your eyes. Lest we wallow in self-pity for our belongings, Akhunov's work notes that they are made with oil, too, highlighting that we are effectively victims of our own dependence ... and of our own creation.
A stunning display, "Earth Leak" forces you to reflect on the world we have developed, and the substance to which we have become addicted. Stark and insightful, "Earth Leak" is art doing what art should always do: compelling us to remain in touch with the world in which we live.
[photos thanks to Laurie DePrete]
Disclosure: Art We Love provided free access to the Affordable Art Fair with no expectation of coverage. The pass was only $20, and I was planning to pay to go anyway.