making water storage revolution making water storage revolution

Artist: Cameron Crawford
installation | poplar, paste wax, plaster, wood filler, etc | 2012

Cameron Crawford's 2012 Biennial works, both sculptures titled making water storage revolution making water storage revolution, began with the idea of “useless labor.” Because almost every conceivable action can in some way be understood in relation to a greater purpose, however, this seemingly simple notion is virtually impossible to realize in practice. For Crawford, this riddle presents a somewhat terrifying philosophical conundrum. If not a successful example of useless labor, these pieces offer at least a vehicle by which to pose the problem. Every element in their fabrication involved an absurd amount of extraneous, doggedly “wasted” labor: The rickety hinges on the folding screen so laboriously constructed by Crawford are not functional. Rolled-up muslin banners are contained in the structure; the face of each one has been entirely covered in pencil lines, and each line was marked as important with a highlighter. Such banners are commonly seen at public events, printed with slogans and taglines; here, however, the artist’s inordinately time-consuming process has resulted in absolutely no political or social utility. Crawford makes specific note that the sculptures are not formally attractive, and therefore lack even the artistic use of being aesthetically beautiful. In the end, perhaps what the works achieve is the sophisticated and humorous presentation of a paradox.


Whitney Biennial 2012 | 2012.03.01 - 2012.05.27 | Whitney Museum of American Art (old museum)(New York City, NY, United States)