Country of Scared Ostriches

Over the last 5 years, I have created numerous site-specific installations, but this space was the most challenging of my career as an artist. There were five floors, an outside area, and Sam. To make matters more complex, I had to find a way to work in the dark after the light disappeared in the early afternoon.

As always, my creative process begins with an exploration of the environment. And then, over time, an organizing concept emerges that gives direction to the entire project. In this case, I decided to spend time in darkness, and the primary image that popped into my head was that of an ostrich—an animal that is known for going underground when frightened. That is precisely how I was feeling in the darkness of this abandoned building. Alone, with no light in this dilapidated building, hearing unknown sounds, I knew I was in the Country of Scared Ostriches.

Also, it occurred to me that Sam—the homeless alcoholic and sole inhabitant of this territory—represents the human “subconscious” in a post-modern world where most people are living with delusions and illusions in order to survive psychologically. He drinks in order to dream, but the rest of us find other ways to escape reality by taking drugs, watching television, gambling, etc. Sam is living in the Country of Scared Ostriches for a good reason, and in this project, he became a universal symbol.

Armed with an initial conceptual framework and the belief that everything I required would be revealed within the building itself, I began the difficult task of constructing floor-by-floor installations. I decided to let each floor dictate the materials and direction the project would take…

Flying Machine
2nd Floor
Sculpture (painted cardboard, found objects)