ArtiFacts II

An alternate history of found objects

Pieces of Wood, 2017


Although recently part of LACMA’s exhibit Form in Fragments: Abstraction in German Art, these pieces of driftwood were not officially part of the museum’s presentation exploring “tendencies toward abstraction in German Expressionism.” The pieces where placed inside the display case by Rebecca, the curator’s ten year old daughter who on the day of the art installation accompanied her mother to work because Carmen Garcia, her nanny, had been arrested as an “undocumented worker.”

Miss Garcia, an art history major at UCLA who resided in the United States since she was eighteen months old, had used the pieces of driftwood to explain what “abstract art” meant. Placing the two pieces of wood they found on the beach in front of the precocious girl, Miss Garcia explained that while the pieces of wood were not a fish, she was using them to depict a fish—just like abstract artists used shapes, lines, form, and colour to depict objects and people.

Later that week, on the day of the installation, Rebecca distraught and confused by her mother’s explanation that her nanny was a casualty of the Trump administration’s immigration policy enacted to protect American citizens from Mexican criminals, took the pieces of wood to the museum in her backpack and placed them in the display case while her mother was not looking. She included an exhibition label written in precise cursive handwriting identifying the abstract fish as “Pieces of Wood.” 

Robin Armstrong

Previous story:
Object AC36891, 2018

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La possibile vertebra della balena che inghiotti Giona, 2007

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