Gabriel Orozco’s new installation at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum shows visitors how the chaos of garbage can be tamed into something quite beautiful. Asterisms is a sculptural and photographic installation of found objects that the artist collected from a coastal biosphere and a playing field. After photographing each object, Orozco arranged the trash into a colorful and organized installation.
The new works, which occupy the museum’s top floor, were specially commissioned from the artist by the Guggenheim. As visitors leave the museum’s infamous spiraled exhibition space, they are greeted by a myriad of colorful objects organized in a tight rectangle on the gallery floor. Upon closer inspection, the viewer will slowly begin to recognize some of the objects. Orange metal buoys of all sizes are grouped together next to smooth pieces of driftwood that have been carved into amorphous shapes by endless movements by the ocean’s current. Fragile incandescent light bulbs remain in tact, but have been corroded by ocean water or taken over by sea creatures. The currents also caused endless packages of paper towels to be transformed into solid masses that resemble coral formations on the ocean’s floor. Along with the adjacent grid of photographs, Orozco’s installation plays a soft soundtrack of whales calling out to sea, peppered with the occasional sea bird cry.
The debris was collected from two areas close to Orozco’s heart. The playing field is located near his New York home, while the protected coastal biosphere is in his native Mexico. Orozco shows us that both areas, one frequented by children and the other a supposed “protected” area, are not immune to the pollution caused by industry, despite the intention of doing so. The artist addresses these issues of garbage overflow while creating a subtly beautiful and color-coordinated installation.