The kitchen is central to post-war dreams of modernity. Khrushchev and Nixon expounded political ideologies using a ‘typical’ American kitchen displayed at the famous1959 Moscow exhibition as cold war bravura demonstration. Fifty years on and everyone wants to be a Masterchef, kitchens are now integrated laboratories of lifestyle aspiration, food preparation is the new rock n roll.
Donna Marcus has collected aluminium kitchenware for almost two decades, selecting and assembling art objects from the once vast detritus of discarded pots and pans, a reservoir created as much by unfashionable culinary tastes as the fears of alloy induced dementia. Her previous works, from the small gridded Cities to the much larger formations of Trickle and Re-entry, have generally involved a minimal interference with the basic media of lids and vessels but the process has at the same time accumulated a huge trove of unused knobs and handles. Critical mass has reunited lost archetypes, weird relations and rare beauties, often overlaid with the optimistic prudence of improvised repairs and patina of generational re-use.
Composite continues Marcus’ interest in the small practices of the everyday set against grander themes of national vision and the sweep of history. The work Coniferous, made from a collection of electric saucepan handles, recalls a fossilized fern but also the somber beauty of Victorian black jet mourning jewelry. Insulate marries the domestic-industrial aesthetic of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky’s breakthrough 1926 Frankfurt Kitchen while Burnt Orange lives in the decade of the artist’s own childhood when space capsules and kitchen utensils were made of the same stuff.
The bones have been boiled down to make rich stock.