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PICTURES OF THE DAY: The Art of Thousands
March 25, 2012
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Flowers in an institution, chairs between buildings, books pouring out of a window: several recent works of art have used massive numbers of objects in unlikely places to create powerful images. All of the objects in question are commonplace on their own, but when displayed in their thousands, they take on new meaning. Here are three installations by female artists that find strength in numbers.

Alicia Martin's 'Biographias'

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At three different locations in Spain, artist Alicia Martin has created massive cascades of books pouring out of windows. (Link 1) The series of artworks is called 'Biographias', or 'Biographies' in English, and each piece features approximately 5000 books. At the centre of each cascade is a hollow frame with wire mesh, to which the books are attached sturdily attached, while the pages are left free to move in the wind.

Doris Salcedo's 'Installation at 8th International Istanbul Biennial'

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This piece features 1,550 wooden chairs piled high between two buildings in Istanbul, Turkey. Artist Doris Salcedo, who displayed the work in 2003, said her aim was to create a "topography of war" - not a specific conflict, but war in general - and to explore the way that war and daily life are intertwined. In the video below, Doris discusses her intentions for the piece.

Anna Schuleit, 'BLOOM'

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The Massachusetts Mental Health Center was demolished in 2003 - but before it came down, artist Anna Schuleit was commissioned to produce an installation in the building. With only three months to put the piece together, she took over an office in the Center, got keys to every room, and started interviewing people who had worked and been patients there. The final product was enormous: it involved 28,000 potted flowers covering almost every surface, as well as fully sodded grass in the basement. The installation was in place for only four days before being removed for the demolition.

In one sense, collecting an enormous pile of old books or chairs is a commendable way to divert them from landfill. But where will they go now? Hopefully someone has a plan for a big pile of books that no one wants to read or chairs that might be a bit worse for wear.

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