Thursday, May 24, 2012

Brasier Young works in water balloons

Dean Liscum

You'd expect a piece entitled "water water everywhere nor any drop to drink" to be, in a word, lugubrious. After all, it's a line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which is about a cruise that didn't go so well.

Karen Brasier Young admits that her relationship with water is ambivalent at best. She spent her youth (at least part of it...she's still pretty young) as a competitive swimmer. To a racer, water is resistance. Water is that thick medium one must thrash through faster than any else does...or else. They won't win, and their teammates won't laud them. Their fans won't adore them. Their parents won't love them. In other words, water stands between the competitive swimmer and fulfillment. Understandably, water makes a competitive swimmer feel about as calm and tranquil as someone who has been rescued from drowning.

Knowing these two facts about the show, I expected it to be downright depressing. However,  Young's one-night-only site-specific exhibition at The Kenmore was anything but a downer.

In fact, it's actually quite fun...

and beautiful...

and poignant...

and meditative.

In the front yard of Skydive and along the sidewalk that led to The Kenmore, Young placed dozens of blue water balloons of various sizes. These balloons created an effect of tenuousness. Would the shimmering, sweating orbs burst in the grass? Would dilettantes (not that the audience of Skydive is frequented by dilettantes) while raving about their latest purchase accidentally step on the art work and rupture the balloons? Would delinquents (not that the audience of Skydive is delinquent-friendly) pick up a balloon and use it as a projectile?

Being a dilettante, a delinquent, and an epicure I hoped for it all. So I sat down in the thrown with the life saver float and the balloon sculpture dripping water on my head and I prepared to be depressed. It was a vague depression. I wasn't sure what form it would take. Water in the face? Ice in the face? A severed body part frozen in ice and then shot into the face? (Apparently, I have a water-face thing I need to get looked into.) And when I opened The Kenmore door, I was surprised at the simple elegance of the water balloon sculpture.

I went back several times and I was unable to conjure up angst or antipathy. I locked in on serene and could not shake the experience.

That is until one of the delinquents or may be it was a dilettante or a drunken dilettante acting like a delinquent. I'm not sure, but someone hit me with a water balloon. I stoically endured for exactly 4.23 nanoseconds and then I flung a balloon\piece of sculpture in the direction of my assailant. The balloon burst on a completely innocent bystander, soaking his hair and shirt.

Yes, my aim, my art blogging, and my self-restraint could use a little improvement. The exhibits evaporated but  Young's website has yet be water ballooned and it's worth a look.

balloon lawn

balloon path



  1. The blue balloons on the front lawn were beautiful. And the "deinstallation" via water balloon fight was great!

  2. Karen Brasier Young admits that her relationship with water is ambivalent at best. She spent her youth (at least part of it...