Monday, January 28, 2008

Homeless Lamp, the Juice Sucker

This comes by way of Greg Cook's excellent The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research blog. The description of the work from the Saatchi Gallery.
Echoing the minimalist works of Dan Flavin, Ivan Navarro's light sculptures subvert the cool detachment of florescent bulbs with their arrangement into recognisable objects. In Homeless Lamp, the Juice Sucker Navarro builds a grocery cart from electric tubing. Featured in a video of a 5 hour performance, Navarro has activated the sculpture on the streets of New York's Chelsea District. In the video, two men break into a municipal power outlet, hi-jacking city energy to feed the power-sucking shopping trolley. Edited to 4 minutes, the action is set to a Mexican revolutionary song from 1905 titled Juan The Landless. As an icon of both consumerism and vagrancy, Homeless Lamp, the Juice Sucker sets a stage where the dichotomies between wealth and poverty convene as a literal and allegorical emblem of power, waste, transience, and opportunistic survival. Basking in an artificial glow, Navarro's Homeless Lamp, the Juice Sucker exudes a religious aura based in consumption, corruption, and errancy.
In case you didn't know, George Foreman Grills connected to light post outlets can serve as makeshift cookers for homeless people. NPR had a piece on this a while back:
...many immigrants, homeless people and others of limited means living in single-room occupancies (SROs) have no kitchens, no legal or official place to cook. To get a hot meal, or eat traditional foods from the countries they've left behind, they have to sneak a kind of kitchen into their places. Crock pots, hot plates, microwaves and toaster ovens hidden under the bed. And now, the latest and safest appliance, the appliance that comes in so many colors it looks like a modern piece of furniture: the George Foreman Grill. It is, quite literally, a hidden kitchen...

...Jeffry learned to cook from his grandmother. He feels an urge to cook, especially for other people -- under the overpass on Chicago's Wacker Drive; on a George Foreman Grill plugged into a power pole; with a hot clothing iron to toast a grilled cheese sandwich.
I haven't seen Navarro’s video or the sculpture in-person, but I do like the idea of the cart being lit up in the city streets and passerbys unexpectedly coming upon it.

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