Freedom Tower Caste System – Basement
watercolor on paper
96 x 60 in.
The theme of your upcoming show, “In Praise of Physical Labor,” intrigued me because my work often deals with absurd and strenuous ways of working. In “Freedom Tower Caste System,” I depict many of the past jobs I had while living in New York City. Workers in a basement support the other ‘castes’ of society that exist on different floors of the tower. Political considerations aside, the work is grounded in the necessity of an artist to work freelance, gaining skills in a haphazard jack-of-all trades sort of way.
The painting is a sketch for performative/sculptural events that delve further into these ideas. Details of the performance, such as the hand-cut plywood chain-link fence, refer to physical labor in how the work was made. I am submitting two photos that document the “Basement Workers” performance, as well as the watercolor ensemble of the tower. The video shot in the second detail is not from the photograph, but gives you an idea of the performance.
My work carries an immediacy that fits with the crises of the day, and speaks to people on a personal level – to counteract the corporate branding, toxicity of marketing, and annexing of the creative public space. This deterioration is not just the fault of some unfathomable corporation, or menacing overseer. We all contribute to the world we live in; the deterioration is found first of all in the imagination. As an artist I want to challenge this mediocrity.
© David Grainger