Christian Tedeschi: Liberation
Public Art Project/Billboard
SW corner Woodward & Maplehurst
Ferndale (around 9 Â½ mile)
After nearly a year long hiatus*, the Detroit Public Art Project â€“ more commonly and affectionately known as â€œthe billboardâ€ â€“ is officially back in action and ready to resume its role as a prominent showcase for Detroit area artists as itâ€™s been for the previous decade. Sculptor Christian Tedeschi, whoâ€™s been showing everywhere around town this past year, gets the nod to inaugurate its return. Most recently, Tedeschi has been exhibiting everyday objects coated in a semi-elastic resin, appearing at times like spun cotton candy or molasses oozed onto the item. Here he splashes a deep red resin onto the white surface of the billboard and lets it run and drip. Amber-like, the resin solidifies to capture the look of being liquid, after which it was then hung upside down making the drips appear to violate gravity and also reach high above the borders of the billboard surface.
Despite its three-dimensionality, the piece owes as much allegiance to painting as it does to sculpture. The pattern of drips (purposeful yet playful) cascading like hills fits nicely into the rich tradition of abstract painting. The exotic nature of the materials and the seemingly upward flowing liquid speak perhaps to the title: â€œLiberation.â€ That is, paint, liberated from the flatness of the canvas and in fact liberated from the crushing weight (in truth, weight inducing force) of gravity.
But the title suggests the artworkâ€™s deeper, political nature â€“ a commentary on wars for â€œfreedomâ€ and their tragic human cost. The choice of this burgundy resin is not happenstance â€“ the color of blood and moreso a perfect stand-in for oil, both in color and apparent viscosity. This draws the connection between blood for oil in a world that, like the installation, seems more turned upside down everyday. In this light, the pattern of the drips take on a new meaning beyond the aesthetic â€“ they could be any number of wartime statistics â€“ that is incidents of insurgency, US soldier deaths, Iraqi civilian deaths â€“ any of the above. Charts turn human lives into statistics, data to be measured. By representing it as an arresting visual, Tedeschi flips the focus back on the human element that makes up the statistics. (On a tangential note, earlier this year, Tedeschi created a piece for a Cranbrook exhibition (the Literary Print), graphing via lie detector his responses to 8 questions about becoming a godfather. )
While some claim to â€œthink about Iraq every single day,â€ Tedeschi has created an important reminder of the very real cost of war. More than that, heâ€™s done so without sacrificing the aesthetic sensibilities that he has developed for himself. Itâ€™s a terrific accomplishment, something both beautiful and sorrowful to behold and engaging enough to think about long after youâ€™ve zoomed past in your automobile. â€“ Nick Sousanis, firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information, or to submit a billboard proposal, please contact (248)591-6623, or watch this space for more details. (Please note, more of Tedeschi's work is on display right now around the corner at Revolution Gallery.)
*(in fact this writer created its last official installation in spring of 2004)