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Brian Jungen

His work isn’t quite dark enough to think he is the grown up version of the neighbor kid, Sid, from Toy Story who used to take apart all of the toys to make new mutant toys, but I am sure the two of them could share some notes. Some of his work, like his piece Carapace (2009), makes him seem more like a Bizzaro-Andy-Goldsworthy, who was set loose inside of a department store instead of the great outdoors. Whereas Goldsworthy may have used sticks, spider-webs, and specifically colored leaves as his media, Jungen would have preferred a designer suitcase, a pair of Air-Jordans, and pile of golf bags. Though I wouldn’t make a consistent comparison of the pair as most of Jungen’s work seems representational.

Since Jungen’s source material comes from such ergonomic stock, it can be almost frustrating how much you want to touch it. It is playful to an intimidating degree, but is certainly not just about looks. Much of the work seems to be making connections between our dispensable culture and the philosophies of more ancient cultures that were arguably anything but. He has some pieces, 1960, 1970, 1980, and 2007, that reference totem-poles, except they are made out of golf bags instead of tree trunks. There is also the piece Prototype For New Understanding #23 (2005) that looks like a tribal mask made out of multiple pairs of Nike Air Jordan’s. I read the work as being a more playful exploration of the potential similarities of these two very different times and cultures, as it feels more humorous and gentle than a scathing critique of how we now live, but perhaps I am wrong.

Brian Jungen lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. He has shown his work all over the world. I came across his work when I was helping my wife clean out her old bedroom at her parents’ house and she had an old piece of literature from the Hirshhorn Museum in D.C. and there was a big write up on his work.

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