Susan C. Dessel, Our Backyard, A Cautionary Tale (site-specific installation). Courtesy of James Wagner.
Susan C. Dessel builds monuments to the essential humanity we all share, but it is a humanity that can assume a very ugly form.
Her art is normally conceived as a public installation, whether or not site-specific. The full power of the artist’s work, although clearly sculptural and sometimes even “monumental.” is only fully unleashed by those who experience it. In a statement which accompanied her piece in the Brooklyn College MFA thesis show this spring she explained: “I feel that my art is successful if it elicits a connection in which the narrative belongs to the viewer.”
Of her latest installation, Our Backyard, A Cautionary Tale, Dessel writes:
My recent work creates a dialog with prevailing icons, addressing how our increasingly-networked world has redefined the concepts of time, space, and distance. The site-specific nature of the gallery’s Sculpture Garden was an opportunity for me to re-imagine the world as I understand it: our shared backyard.
Without a page to turn or a switch to flip the installation is a reminder of the potential of our decisions, whether thoughtfully considered or determined simply through inaction. We can close our eyes but the images are always there, and behind them stand the realities that we all help to create.
Dessel’s Williamsburg “Backyard” is our backyard, regardless of where we live, and both the image and the reality it imagines will remain even after we leave it, even after it leaves the gallery.