"Lamentations" installation piece
in the exhibition "PostWaste: An Imperative for the Near Future"
In the early summer of 1996 I co-curated a gallery exhibition and
public installation in Benicia California titled "PosteWaste:
An Imperative for the Near Future". The "Postwaste"
show was part of a collaborative effort between four galleries in
the region, which focuses on waste and waste management: ways that
the detritus of our post-industrial society shapes our lives, its
potential for reuse, remediation, metaphorical meanings, and in
the case of a neighborhood in Benicia-its harmful effects, even
twenty-something years after burial of the waste. Kathryn Gunther,
director of the Benicia Center for the Arts, and myself invited
15 Bay Area artists to respond to a waste management problem at
Southampton, a middle-class housing project in Benicia. The houses
on Rose Drive were built on a landfill, which started oozing toxic
waste in 1990. Many homes were evacuated due to potential danger
to toxic exposure. After five years, very little had been done to
clean up the toxic waste, until our group of artists listened and
responded in kind with art works and site specific installations
created in response to the situation. Several of the installations
were installed in one of the evacuated houses on Rose Drive. The
exhibition, public art works, and symposium created around this
exhibition helped mobilize the community into action.
"Lamentations" is a digital sound sculpture consisting
of 15 glass specimen jars with stories from victims of toxic exposure
etched onto each bottle. The bottles contain computer chips, motion
sensors, and speakers. Each bottle emits sounds from the contaminated
victims as they sensed the viewer's presence.
The symposium titled "State of our Waste" brought together
artists, A Toxins Assessment Group, Waste Management Service Providers,
and the Solano County Division of Environmental Health, to discuss
the issues raised in "Postwaste: An Imperative for the Near