The horses are galloping, their muscles straining with energy and power as they charge towards you, one white (Light); one black (Silence). Look carefully and closer up and you see that those straining muscles, the eyes, the ears, the lips and other features of the horses are made of recycled plastic utensils of the sort that can probably be found in every domestic kitchen, cheap to buy and easy to throw away. Japanese artist Sayaka Ganz has taken these utensils as her raw material and given them new life and energy in her sculptures on show in ‘Reclaimed Creations’ at the Morikami Japanese Gardens and Museum in Florida.
Ganz has been strongly influenced by the Shinto belief that all objects and organisms have spirits and will cry if discarded before their time. By transforming these objects into animal and organic forms, she gives them their spirit back. Other animals include a rising dolphin, a bird in flight and a leaping family of polar bears whose natural habitat itself is under threat from climate change with the white utensils showing the yellowing that comes with use and age, just as the fur of polar bears discolour.
Animals are also important to Italian artist Paula Pivi. Her polar bears are exercising and doing yoga. While they look playful, the fact that they are covered with coloured feathers hides a deeper concern about climate change, the impact on natural life and how it might have to adapt to it, while her Muskox standing in a pile of coffee beans reflects human attitude towards our natural environment and the focus on mass consumption. We consume millions of cups of coffee a day without worrying about the impact on the environment on the countries in which the coffee grows, while Muskoxen are a success story. Having become extinct across much of their natural habitat in Northern Europe and Alaska, mainly due to overhunting, conservation and repopulation measures have successfully seen their reintroduction to their former natural habitats.
Piri’s other works on show in ‘Art With a View’ at The Bass in Miami Beach in Florida focus on a variety of issues and contradictions in our modern society with spinning bicycle wheels that resemble dream catchers, a giant structure containing 80 mattresses inviting viewers to climb aboard for exercise and relaxation, at one time both comforting like being in a bed and threatening like being in a padded cell, and an 3D installation of 92 televisions displaying 40,000 images of reality and recorded lies, raising the question of how can we tell what is true in what we hear in the news, when so much is manipulated.
This is art at its best, encouraging the viewer to connect with current issues in society.