Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Residue and newness, "Flood/Margin, Part/Whole" an installation by Robert Bubp - Indianapolis Art Center - December 8, 2004

* Pictured - "Flood/Margin, Part/Whole," an installation by Robert Bubp, is on view at the IAC.

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,” Shakespeare told us in Troilus and Cressida. Robert Bubp tells us, similarly, that for every action there is a reaction in nature with his installation “Flood/Margin, Part/Whole.” For Indianapolis it’s imminent, this Wichita, Kan., artist reminds.

Eloquent and pointed in content, Bubp’s installation is composed of indelicate concrete blocks, sandbags, metal maps, dirt and video projections that appropriately feel plopped down into the Churchman-Fehsenfeld Gallery at the Indianapolis Art Center. Though a prevailing visual symptom of Indianapolis’ urban-rural sprawl, these rough elements are unexpected, if not temporarily startling to see assembled in a gallery setting.

“The inside looks like the outside,” a bemused visitor accurately said of the installation, referring to Kosene and Kosene’s Monon Row $375,000 a pop condos (phase V), seemingly spontaneously generating from concrete slab on mud foundations just yards from the IAC’s front doors on Ferguson Street.

Two fractional concrete block walls are stretcher bound in the gallery just as “phase V” appears at this moment. And, just like those and 55 other construction sites along the White River from the IAC to Noblesville the artist documents here, they appear as architectural residue combined with evidence of newness.

One wall bears sandbags and the other dirt rubble at its base while both reflect video images of the White River, fields of purple blooms, woods and farmland (some blurred images suggest fleetingness) juxtaposed against maps of Carmel. The consequences dealt with in this piece include the White River flooding downstream in communities like Rocky Ripple at Butler University.

Bubp reminds us that while Carmel has gone from a population of 2,000 in 1960 to 38,000 now, agricultural and wooded lands in this outlying district have been destroyed without a greater city plan. “Wherever root systems and foliage are cleared and replaced with non-absorbent materials [cars, roofs, streets, parking lots] runoff is significantly increased, which means river levels will also increase,” the artist explains in his statement. “Is Carmel going to develop a plan for flood control that will ensure its growth is not responsible for downriver flooding in a city that hands out sandbags when it rains?” This is also a town that has been unwilling to procure paper recycling receptacles because of their perceived unsightliness.

Aesthetically abrupt and intellectually in tune, this message of fragmentation in our new-growth community demands that citizens question city planners and the environmental scars that short-term developments are creating — the costs of which greatly outweigh rental income from the limited life of an AMLI apartment complex. It begs for responsibility from all parties. This work is a success from every perceivable angle.

“Flood/Margin, Part/Whole” will be up through Jan. 16, 2005. For info call 317-255-2464. - Mary Lee Pappas

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