Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Endless Tower of Tires
by dan brawley and bob brown

and the
Mother of all Palapas
by dixon stetler

All week long Dixon and I have been working on the lawn at the Cameron Art Museum constructing the Endless Tower of Tires and the Mother of All Palapas. The installation was intended to coincide with Earth Day this past Tuesday. But the museum is also opening a holocaust show on Thurday, May 1, so Dixon kept saying that our work seem to fit more with the holocaust than Earth Day. Especially since no one seems to quite understand Earth Day - it's like a company is handing out green coozies to hold aluminum beer cans and that's how they exhibit their 'green-ness.' So just like everything else, it becomes just another marketing scam. We scare people about the degradation of the environment and then fill the stores with 'green' products that they must buy or else they'll be destroying the planet. EarthDay out, holocaust in.

So, with all the sad, lonely gloves found abandoned and trampled on the streets, and then with the endless stack of black tires, all their treads facing out like the undersides of peoples feet, we started to see the tower and the palapa in a much more somber way. I keep thinking of the tower of tires as a symbol of all our mile-driving. We all get in our cars as a matter of habit. We don't think about driving ever. Only in terms of how much does it cost to fill up and what kind of car do I drive. All those tires, miles and miles. I'm convinced that the mile-driving is the true American sickness. It's the thing that separates us quickly from our friends and family. And its the tires that make it all possible, but we don't ever see them. All the old tires get tucked away or recycled, out of sight, out of mind. In the end, the The Endless Tower of Tires is more American than the Washington Monument. Partly because it's black.

As my collaborator Bob Brown says, the tower is an homage to Brancusi's Endless Column. And also an homage to Allan Kaprow, who once covered a VW Bug with jelly and then had a bunch of people lick it off with their tongues. It was probably grape jelly or maybe strawberry jam. I'll have to say that part of the reason I built this tower is simply because Bob wanted to. If you haven't checked out his exhibit at the CAM, then go now. Bob Brown is a creative force and he has had a deep impact on my work.
On Friday, I put the final tire on top of the tower. The scaffolding will probably come down on Monday. I have to mention Beth Pancoe and Forest Heddon over at SDI Construction. They donated the scaffolding and generally gave me the kind of construction company lift that I needed to build this thing. We'll be announcing some kind of christening for the 'complex' - which has something to do with celestial turtles. The complex is also reported to be a beacon for time traveling elephants. The amphibious ones with metallic green skin full of sharps of red like snake's eyes. They may be from Babel. And their just looking for a nice place to live with a little pond that won't dry up.

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