Nuclear recycling

I was reluctant to write a post about Ghanaian contemporary artist El Anatsui’s solo show at the Brooklyn Museum, Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui, fearing that my lame photos and prose wouldn’t capture its freakish, alive spirit. His medium is discarded bottle caps, bands and found objects. He turns them into giant, fluid, flowing works. He gathers thousands of pieces like this:


And connects them together with copper wire to create stunning curtains like this:


This is some of the most painstaking work I’ve ever seen. It’s like pointillism except your fingers bleed. Where does his ambition come from? He connects flattened caps together with a painstaking specificity…


…to create splashes of color and texture. Look how this piece spills onto the floor.


Here he collected the tops of tins…


…to create long, snake-like sculptures that ooze across the floor and up the wall.

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From a distance, the pieces hanging on the wall look like great swaths of multi-colored fabric. You want to reach out and caress it. Closer inspection reveals its sharp edges and copper wiring, not soft to the touch.

Behind a curtain of pop top rings.


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Summer is half over. Do you guys call them lightning bugs or fireflies? It’s a regional preference. Do you call it a bucket or a pail? Pop or soda? The Daughters gather them up in our back yard and I always insist they release them. They’re not permitted to stuff them into jars. They’re such beautiful, innocent, harmless creatures. Both The Daughters and the fireflies. I wouldn’t keep either one imprisoned.

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This pic is raw, straight from my iPhone. No Photoshopping, no Camera+, no Picoli—nothing. The technology behind this astonishes me. Some guy wrote a code that allows this to happen. Man, I’ll never be that smart.