by Heather White
Concrete Island – Jed Lind’s current exhibit, at Jessica Bradley Projects – is named for a J.G. Ballard novel that chronicles a man stranded with his Jaguar on an L.A. traffic island, forced to take the decadent vehicle apart to fashion tools to survive. The novel’s urban and automative themes inform the show: sculptures are cast from car parts; photographic collages mix mechanical motifs with imagery of exotic flora that’s overtaken L.A. infrastructure.
More interesting, though, is the way Lind has retooled the theme of survival. Ballard’s Concrete Island already parodies urgency and sacrifice; Lind’s pushes further. Consider the two “sleeping mats” cast from the grid of spheres used in cars to hold windshield wiper fluid. One spreads weightily across the floor near the gallery door, while the other is rolled and deflated (the dimples in the spheres make them delicious, or like partially crushed crabapples) on a pedestal. Crucially, you can’t lie on either: function is wrested from luxury, then arrested through the conditions of exhibition.
Lind’s project is, though, resourceful in its own way: think of how, through casting, a single object can yield multiple parts of a structure. The show’s most successful piece does this by soldering multiple bronze casts of a windshield wiper into a polyhedron you couldn’t wrap your arms around. There are no pretensions to use-value here, although the association to the parts’ original purpose makes this work especially dynamic to me — as if the blades might at any moment conspire to a synchronized wipe, the way a series of eyelashes might sweep an insect’s compound eye. Without this riffing, though, the structure works aesthetically: the overlapping of lines give it real visual intrigue. It’s not a tool for anyone’s survival, but it salvages certain aesthetic qualities – balance; surprise; craftsmanship – from the wreckage of relevant material.
Or maybe these works do play a part in rescue; Lind’s titled the wiper piece “I am the Island”. Indeed, Lind can be understood – like any artist, or anyone – as a limited site of resources, a circumscribed set of mind and matter within the world. He does what the stranded do: makes things, and tries to connect with others. The works are like smoke signals, but beautifully crafted and critically engaged.
Concrete Island is on view at Jessica Bradley Projects until June 23. Images courtesy gallery website.
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