Cradle of Civilization, 1991

Basel 2019
P.P.O.W
Sculpture
mixed media installation
167.6 x 72.4 x 61.0 Size (cm)
66.0 x 28.5 x 24.0 Size (in)
David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) was among the most incisive and prolific American artists of the 1980s and 90s. P•P•O•W will recreate part of Wojnarowicz’s influential 1989 exhibition "In The Shadow of Forward Motion", his first exhibition with the gallery which featured many of the photographic works the artist is best known for today. Images such as "Untitled (Buffalos)" 1988-89 present a visual metaphor for the notion of societal progress by channeling, according to the artists’ notes, “a sense of impending collision contained in the acceleration within the structures of civilization; speed of consumption; speed of transport and mixing of cultures.” "Untitled (Ant Series)", comprised of 6 photographs, represents tiny fire ants indiscriminately scuttling across symbols of our most cherished and agonizing social constructs: control, desire, language, spirituality, time / money, and violence. The installation also includes the mixed-media sculpture "Cradle of Civilization", which depicts a small child’s chair growing in the forest. On its seat is a clay fetus clutching a battery whilst lying in a bird’s nest and, slithering between the chair legs, is a map-collaged snake. As an installation, this symbolic dreamscape exemplifies the salient cultural criticism and profound sensitivity of Wojnarowicz’s groundbreaking work. In his essay for the accompanying exhibition catalog, Felix Guattari wrote, “When everything seems to be said or repeated at this point in Art History, something emerges from David Wojnarowicz’s chaos which confronts us to our responsibility to intervene in the movement of the world.”