Dodge Gallery, at 15 Rivington Street, is a gorgeous bi-level open gallery- and former sausage factory (in fact, the giant meat grinder is still kept in the building’s storage space downstairs!). “That Which Remains,” a recent solo exhibition by Sheila Gallagher in the lower level, explores works the artist has created from found objects that she and her family have saved, yet do not use. The recycled materials in the exhibition question the purpose of the objects we hoard.
From afar, the large piece entitled “Deute” appears to be an abstract collage, which by blurring our eyes, we can see forms a pathway lined with fall foliage. Upon closer inspection, the patchy colors that comprise the image are actually melted junk. Broken sunglasses, several Crayola permanent markers, prescription bottles, and chopped up credit cards are melted with countless soda and water bottle lids, children’s toys and costume jewelry. The resulting piece is fascinating. One can stare at the giant mass, examining a sort of visual history of Gallagher’s life, by her collection of useless objects that she refused to throw away.
During a talk with the NYC Department of Sanitation’s Robin Nagle, Gallagher discussed this notion of the unnecessary objects and tidbits that find their way into our homes, and somehow remain there, as we subconsciously place some sort of value on them. The sheer fact of their presence bestows a sort of power on these objects that they hold over us, allowing us to be ruled by our junk. Further, Nagle discussed the fate for many of these objects if we did decide to part with them, giving almost a catalog of the types of objects that are found in our landfills, which Gallagher’s work is a reflection of.
photos © Lori Zimmer for Inhabitat