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Rhonda Weppler & Trevor Mahovsky: Shopping Cart 11
Shopping Cart 11 2007
Shopping Cart was made on site at MSVU Art Gallery. The artists wrapped sheets of aluminum foil around the cart, embossed all of its details onto the foil and cut away the holes, then removed the foil from the cart and glued it together. The shape of the cast is determined in part by the object it represents, and in part by gravity and currents of air raised by spectators. Time, gravity and chance conspire in the structure’s slow collapse. Because of foil’s structural frailty, the crumpled posture of the shopping cart cast suggests roadkill from the outset. It may also remind viewers of hijacked, abandoned shopping carts that can be seen all over the city.
The artists observe that the now five-year-old shopping cart is vulnerable and needs to be treated tenderly. At the same time it is...blank, and it is a joke about being useless.
The basic principle of casting—as practiced by Weppler and Mahovsky—is similar to that of photography, in that the object represented leaves its direct impression, whether through light exposure or physical pressure, on the material at hand. The causal relationship between an object and its representation is called "indexical." Indexicality is what constitutes the evidentiary value of an ID photo, a fingerprint or a footprint. Indeed, the thinness and sensitivity of foil are also similar to the physical qualities of photographic film. In both its photographic documentation and the sculpture itself, an emphasis on materiality and process confronts the iconic appeal of familiar shapes. The effect is uncanny.
Weppler and Mahovsky both have MFA degrees from the University of British Columbia. As former employees on the assembly line of a tile factory, they have adapted factory methods to their collaborative production process since 1994. Their disposable oeuvre includes SUVs, luxury and mid-range sedans, subcompacts, a half-ton truck and a Hummer H2.