Anna Campbell: Under Water Into the Sunset
Window into Houston at 110 Milam Street

Commissioned by Blaffer Art Museum
January 23 - April 17, 2013

Using sculpture and installation, Anna Campbell’s Under Water Into the Sunset makes a pink and orange tableau from accoutrements of Texas industry. Translucent red resin stirrups and gingham chaps await a lonesome cowboy. Well-worn saddlebags and an antique leather pony saddle sit astride painted pink steel and glitter-encrusted structures reminiscent of oil rigs. Emphasizing frivolity and play over function, the work invites multiple associations while also taking seriously the radical prospects of failure: the failure of masculinity to cohere as a stable category, the failure of heroic figures to secure sustainable energy futures. A colander-as-helmet among items on the overburdened saddle platform rig and paired steel constructions (hero + sidekick) refer to Miguel de Cervantes’ seventeenth-century novel Don Quixote, in which idealism and invention meet futility in a conflicted landscape.

Under Water Into the Sunset, in Campbell’s words, “imagines a post-heroic landscape, littered with protagonist detritus, and alludes to increasingly unpredictable changes that have shifted our horizons, both geographically and psychologically. This work hopes to destabilize the iconic references it employs in an effort to engender dialogue about legacies, resources, and the narratives we construct to describe our environment.” Campbell draws on camp sensibilities and queer politics to question shared senses of taste, time, and history. The failures of popular industrial and cultural imaginaries become a means through which we might know the world differently by imagining alternative possibilities.   

Curator: Amy L. Powell