Sometimes it takes an artist’s eye to see possibilities in discarded objects. Pieces at a recent exhibit of Jean Shin’s work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art use discarded clothing and fashion related materials Shin often crowd sources and refashions into installations. Worn Soles particularly appealed to me. I gather the artist re-configures it for each display space.
In Worn Soles, the artist has separated the bodies of used shoes from their soles. These disembodied objects are placed heel-side up along the floor in crowded groups, the resulting topography undulating as the heels vary in height. The arrangement of the soles suggests the movement of crowds of people—at times spreading outward, ready to disperse, and at others flowing together in a single direction. Every worn sole is unique and evokes the presence of the body that wore it. Like wrinkles on the skin, the surface is a drawing in which every step produces a mark that maps the owners’ pasts. (taken from Shin’s website)
Following are some of her other installations that caught my eye. Many are for public spaces rather than museums, and so their intent and effects differ. The descriptions are from Shin’s website
A site-specific installation, Unraveling visualizes the web of interrelationships among members of the Asian American arts community. The artist unravels sweaters that have been donated by individuals in each exhibition city and then reassembles the brightly colored yarns into a dynamic installation that maps this dense social network. The name of each participant is silkscreened onto a label that is sewn onto the edge of the owner’s deconstructed sweater.
Records were melted and sculpted to form a cascading wave, dotted with bursts of colorful labels. The resulting structure speaks to the inevitable waves of technology that render each successive generation of recordable media obsolete. The piece also aims to physically manifest the ephemerality of music as well as one man’s musical tastes, as represented by his personal record collection.
Rescued from the street after windy storms, broken umbrellas have been deconstructed, reassembled and re-introduced to the outdoor elements. Attached to trees, this large canopy of primarily black umbrellas provides a passage of welcome shade in the park as it interacts with the sun and breeze, creating a play of shadows below.