SYRACUSE, New York — On trash days in his home of Utica, New York, sculptor and installation artist Marc-Anthony Polizzi hops into his 15-year-old pickup truck and goes scavenging. He has rules about what materials he picks out of roadside junk piles: nothing that can be donated, nothing absorbent, nothing that another scavenger could turn into cash. The leftovers — wonky shelving, broken furniture, old window blinds, a single ski boot — become the building blocks of brightly hued, site-specific art installations that serve as regional portraits and comment on contemporary consumer culture’s emphasis on the disposable.
Currently on view at the Everson Museum of Art, Overextended is Polizzi’s latest statement in and on stuff. The bright orange installation (a color inspired by the sun as seen through the Canadian wildfire smoke that billowed into Upstate New York this past summer) is composed of three segments. A broad geometric shape painted on the wall blends a lightning bolt and a thought bubble. It emerges beside a kitschy, life-sized dog sculpture, wraps around two walls, and explodes on the gallery’s back wall in a visual cacophony of discarded middle-class materiality, balanced in a precarious-looking pile atop two two-by-fours that extend slightly beyond the width of the gallery space.
The entire assemblage seems to be upheld by a car jack, but the jack is just for show. The presence of this single connecting point to the floor produces the anxiety-inducing illusion that the installation could collapse at any moment, burying viewers in cheap, mass-produced paraphernalia. It is an apt metaphor for central New York State, an evolving Rust Belt region that was historically economically supported by transportation of material goods via the Erie Canal.
While the installation may evoke environmental disasters like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a nostalgic charm inheres in some of the collected stuff. Prominently placed pinwheels, part of a Playskool Playhouse, and molded plastic toys speak to childhood and aim to engage young viewers, hopefully inspiring discussions and actions for a sustainable future.
Marc-Anthony Polizzi: Overextended continues at the Everson Museum of Art (401 Harrison St, Syracuse, New York) through September 24. This exhibition is part of the ongoing Central New York Artist Initiative, which spotlights regional creatives, and was organized by the museum.