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Tim Belknap’s Post-Apocalyptic Pineapple at Fleisher Challenge 1


IMG_8209 Timothy Belknap
Tim Belknap and Dream Come True, at Fleisher

We’re big fans of Tim Belknap, one of the Belknap Brothers, whose performance at FLUXspace in 2007 we loved for its mesmerizing weirdness.

So when he invited us for a gallery walk-through to see his installation at Fleisher, we couldn’t wait. Belknap is one of three artists in the first Wind Challenge exhibit this year at Fleisher Art Memorial; the others are Cheryl Harper and John Garrett Slaby. We’ll tell you about the rest of the show in another post.

You’ll find our photos of the entire Challenge exhibition at Roberta’s flickr and Libby’s flickr.

Here’s how Belknap began:

I’m a scrapper…with my friend Alex. [When they need a little money, they put a scrap-wanted listing up on Craig’s list and go in and buy things that would otherwise be thrown out…from buildings being rehabbed].

I found a reel-to-reel player and a bunch of tapes of Martin Luther King‘s death–post-assassination radio reports–on a gospel radio station. …I found it at an old Masonic Temple. Also, at Girard and Master at a school we were dumpster diving we found a Bell Labs record in a box…and sold it on eBay to someone from Japan…for $300.

Public Buildings, if they have a dumpster, you hit’em. If it’s not us, it will end in a landfill. That’s what Tyler School of Art taught me — go through dumpsters to find the treasure.

Timothy Belknap
Detail of Dream Come True. Note the motto “Do not give up.”

Is your Fleisher show scrapped together?
No, this installation is what the scrap was paying for.

What’s the back-story behind in installation? In a nutshell, You’ve got an ice cream truck, a pineapple greenhouse on wheels and a circus-striped Mars rover on tricycle wheels. It’s a parade, but what kind?

IMG_8220 Timothy Belknap
Timothy Belknap, The Future is So Bright

It tells a story about Mr. Bolt and Pineapples — a post apocalyptic story about a guy trying to feed the children, but packing a gun, too. He drives the truck, grows pineapples and generates energy. But during the night he’s afraid of the kids. He does puppet shows. [Tim will do a puppet show in the course of the exhibit, but the date is not yet set.]

So is the pineapple really growing, or is it just for the show?
I’m …using apples to off-gas…I read that when gas is produced by decaying apples, the pineapple will flower. It takes two-and-a-half years to grow a pineapple and they produce when they’re 2 feet tall. [His is about 2 feet tall now AND he expects it to flower in about nine more months]. The pineapple is self-sufficient.

This part of the installation is called Leave It To Beaver to Stab the Old Man and Take His Battery.
This part of the installation is called Leave It To Beaver to Stab the Old Man and Take His Battery.

What’s the audio in the truck?
[The audio is supposed to be in Dream Come True, and broadcast over FM, but his transmitter didn’t come from China yet….The audio is Amy Day, a friend, singing Over the Rainbow (acapella). He expects it next week.] when I have the transmitter I’ll have headphones…but it won’t be set to the frequency so people have to tune it…they may be listening to NPR or maybe stumble on my audio…

Timothy Belknap
The parade of vehicles.

How’d you build the truck?
I started with a riding lawn mower and took the engine out and put in a diesel engine of the kind used to run an electric sign board (like those arrow signs on the highway that tell you to move over)…It uses 1 pint of diesel an hour.

You have a solar panel too…so it’s a hybrid vehicle!!!
I wrote my thing for Fleisher and put in lots of references to Great Big Nuclear War (GBNW) and starving children….and Fleisher wrote the press release up like it’s an eco piece. It’s not eco.

I’m not political.

Timothy Belknap with The Future is So Bright
Note solar panel on top of ice cream truck.

I like the dichotomy of fear and submission in the ’50s–the cheeriness of the AEC brochures. For example, Atomic Energy and You ….it’s your friend. When we get bombed, here are all the things we can test our children and cattle with. Or the ’50s Red scare–duck and cover. There’s optimism in that time…now everything’s a warning. My ex-girlfriend, her grandpa in Texas was [a plane spotter]…just in case the plane came over with the bomb in it.

I wanted to be an astronaut. I grew up in the 80s..there was leftover optimism. Do people want to be astronauts anymore? The last few days I’ve been listening to Martin Luther King. It’s just like…No hate, No fear….you don’t hear that anymore.

Do you paint besides making sculpture?
Why do I make sculpture like this? I do this because I can’t paint.[He doesn’t like to face the white canvas]. I feel bad for painters.

Timothy Belknap
Puppets waiting to tell the story.

How do you get the work done? Do you do it all yourself or do you have help?
I have an entourage. My brother Matthew sewed the clothes on the skeleton. He made dresses for the Belknap sisters performance at FLUXspace. virginia Fleming helped with the puppets; Dustin Metz helped with painting the scenery for the puppets; Amy Parks helped mutate the flowers.

I think I’m fun to help out…anything you can do…I’ll get you to help.

How long did it take you to make this?
I got the truck engine a year ago, the pineapple a week ago, the skeleton a month ago, the ball over the summer. I made the flowers a week ago.

I try to keep it simple.