Roxy Paine: Conjoined (2007), Defunct (2004) and Erratic (2007)
Roxy Paine’s stainless steel sculptures — Conjoined (2007), Defunct (2004) and Erratic (2007) — demonstrate the artist’s long term investigation of the tension between nature and industrialization. Paine’s work combines the organic with the manufactured and simultaneously critiques our manufactured surroundings and the visual freedom of natural forms. Paine compares functioning systems including tree roots, industrial piping, and the branches of vascular networks in the body. Conjoined is a forty-foot sculpture of two trees whose branches project in space and connect in mid-air. The trees are different species, but the observer is unable to demarcate where one begins and the other ends. The work is complex, fabricated from approximately seven-thousand metal pipe and rod elements, and assembled through the rigorous tasks of cutting, bending, tacking, welding, grinding, and polishing. At forty-two feet high, Defunct is a dying tree infiltrated with fungus. The beauty of the once powerful, vibrant tree is overshadowed by encroaching rot. Defunct, a meditation on loss and life, questions the symbiotic relationship between between production and natural selection. Erratic is a boulder measuring seven-feet high by fifteen-feet wide. The term “erratic” refers to a rock that is found in an area where it bears little or no relationship to the underlying geology. Erratic’s slick exterior betrays its ancient origin.