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Phoebe’s playhouse: Washburn’s ICA ramp

Phoebe Washburn’s ramp project at the ICA

Funny that Roberta just wrote about this–Phoebe Washburn’s Vacational Trappings and Wildlife Worries installation on the ramp at the ICA (see her post). But I’ll add a couple more thoughts.

The yellow steel drum with the hose on top gives a mixed message of danger, usefulness and homey cheer.

Washburn’s cathedral of detritus holds the space with architectural spectacle that transforms the ramp from what it is to what it should be–a powerful soaring arch made of reused bits of wood shingled up the walls and over the top. That arch transforms what would normally be a survivalist cabin into a statement about taking back the earth.

aeration for the golf balls?

The little aquarium spaces, with glowing green golf balls instead of fish also impart a message of cheerfulness, a wacky optimism from making something good and appealing from something not so good. That same optimism is also expressed in Washburn’s safe space, which, with its smell of sawed wood, makes me think of a treehouse, the arch above replicating the tree canopy in the forest.

Washburn thought of everything, even a friendly scrap-wood holder for the gallery notes

I read this piece less about the disaster befalling the earth–although it’s there–and more about the triumph of surviving in the face of the disaster. But whatever it’s about, it scores high on the looks and charm meters–a swell contrast to Karen Kilimnik’s work, also at the ICA, which is deliberately thorny (Kilimnik post here).