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Nothing Outlives Mortality:
A Conversation with Kristen Morgin

by Michaël Amy


Kristen Morgin makes shells of things. She embraces breakdown and wear and tear, traces of which constitute evidence of past longings and actions. Her subject is manmade objects produced in a distant or not-so-distant past: cellos of unspecified date, a piano that belonged to Ludwig van Beethoven, carousel horses with whiffs of the Belle Époque, pedal cars of the ’20s or ’30s, Cadillacs and Mercurys that rolled off the assembly line more than half a century ago, heavily thumbed pulp novels and comic books. Made of terra cruda—unfired clay—and supported by armatures of wood and wire, her sculptures evoke fragmentary objects retrieved from the trash heap of history and painstakingly, if only partially, reconstructed, thereby inviting us to fill in the gaps. These ruins, veering from high to low, from the pedimental groups on the Parthenon—evoked by the horses—to the modern-day junkyard—evoked by the seemingly rusted-through cars—are extremely fragile, teetering on the edge of imminent collapse. Time passes. Everything is in a state of flux, and everything will inevitably be reduced to dust.

Stingray, 2006.
Unfired clay, wood, wire, salt, and talc, approximately 52 x 60 x 18 in.

Image: Robert Wedemeyer, courtesy Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles.


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