Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wrecked Goods

This new painting is titled Vrakgods, which translates as debris. Less correctly translated, but more interesting, would be wrecked goods.
This would be an example of a personal style of translation, which I coin as etymologocentricism (safe to say this won't become a standard word any time soon!) Such a translator chooses more directly related words, grasping for the cognates or parallels in languages of the same family, sometimes at the expense of clearest meaning, but gaining something else.
Wrecked goods, or debris, has always fascinated me, whether it's found on a lonely beach, forgotten wharf, or high-desert prairie. In the case of this painting old cars lie to rust very slowly in the dry plains outside Laramie, Wyoming. Makes from different decades rest together in a diversity that will slowly become less clear to the viewer, as time removes stylistic distinction.
The background shows the erosion and geology of a basin that once lay under a giant, shallow sea. This is a fossil hunter's paradise—the first excavation of a Tyranosaurus Rex took place there. These cars could be thought of as types of fossils too.
Wrecked goods (debris and fossils) are startling! These objects sit, revealed, before our eyes, feasting with whatever associations we like, independent of the original context wherein these things were created. In a museum, where a fossil skeleton stands, we don't see the surrounding stone, the layering and conditions that took place over millions of years. The sequence or order of history may be wiped away, but the objects like to startle us, resting as they do in the fresh light of our new eyes.

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