Thursday, February 13, 2014

Consumer Reliquaries

Today's adventure takes us back to Lloyd Center again (honestly, I'm not taking kickbacks from them or anything), this time to the parking garage on the south side of the mall. If you go to the ground floor and look closely, you'll eventually run across Consumer Reliquaries, a series of small birdhouse-shaped metal boxes, each containing a common consumer object or two, showcased as if they're precious objects or holy relics on display. That Smithsonian inventory entry (link above) is pretty terse:

SCULPTOR: Bourdette, Christine 1952-
MEDIUM:   bronze, glass, steel, found objects, electric lights

Like the nearby In the Tree Tops and the Capitalism fountain, Consumer Reliquaries arrived in 1991 as part of the Lloyd Center remodel. During the Reagan-Bush era, there was a hot genre of art like this about consumerism, kitsch, and pop culture. Sometimes celebrating it, other times satirizing it, and often a bit of both. This one seems to be a bit of both. The last time I posted a photo of one of the boxes was back in 2006, after someone had slightly vandalized it, pushing the needle further to the satire end of the dial.

(Apologies for the scatterbrained 2006 blog post, by the way. I was home sick with a cold that day and cobbled together a post with some random photos I had lying around, followed by some random links from my RSS feed. Those would all go to Twitter or Tumblr now, but back then neither had been invented yet, and every day we blogged six miles through the snow, uphill, both ways. I like to think I've gotten better at this blog business since 2006, or at least I've found a sorta-interesting niche to stick to.)

Anyway, Bourdette also created Snails in Fields Park, and Cairns at the north end of the downtown Transit Mall. Neither have anything to do with consumer culture, as far as I know; the art world's moved on since 1991, or at least the city's public art buyers have.

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