In her new exhibition, Caroline McCarthy takes this preoccupation further, creating a new conceptual context with which to focus the spectator’s vision on things overlooked and undervalued. In his essay for the accompanying poster/publication, British writer, Mark Hutchinson explains: “Grand Detour: Vedute and Other Curious Observations Off the Grand Route, takes its title and methods from the origins of tourism in the “Grand Tour” of 18th century Europe. “Vedute”, literally translated as ‘view,’ is an art historical term, coined in the 18th century, used to describe pictures which provide an expansive, topographical view of a place. These pictures would be collected by young aristocrats on the Grand Tour, serving as both records of places visited and status symbols on the walls of their homes.
McCarthy is neither a tourist nor an aristocrat, but she has used a hijacking or détournement of this notion of the Grand Tour, to reverse its grandiose subject matter by concentrating on the detritus left behind by our consumer society. In the visits she made to Brooklyn in preparation of Grand Detour , she carefully documented the waste, weeds and debris found on the sidewalks and in the gutters of the neighborhood of Parker’s Box- (Grand Street and the adjoining area). These scenes of the overlooked have been rendered in exquisite watercolors, drawings and etchings with the care and precision characteristic of vedute , thus instilling these lowly by-products of our society with a new status in the world.