Nancy Rubins has been creating visually stunning sculptures out of salvaged industrial and consumer goods including mattresses, trailers, hot water heaters, airplanes and small appliances since the late 1970s. In her hands, such everyday objects become unfamiliar and astonishing, as they are trussed and finessed into heroic forms that defy both gravity and our expectations for how these things should behave.
The sculptures may appear precarious but are, in fact, delicately balanced and precisely engineered. While her works are often read as social commentary on consumer society and technological obsolescence, Rubins is most interested in the formal properties, availability, and utilitarian beauty of the particular items with which she works. As she explains, “When I first starting collecting objects after graduate school, it was the quantity and variety that attracted me–and the idea that I could go to Goodwill and pay fifty cents for a whole carload of televisions with marvelous plastic consoles, antennas, and wiring. They had both an amazing appeal and an inherent sadness to them.”
With Pleasure Point she turns her attention to nautical cast-offs, an unexpected but perhaps appropriate medium. It’s a site-specific sculpture’s installation was and completed in January 2006. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Pleasure Point at La Jolla, California, it’s an accumulation of rowboats, canoes, jet skis, and surfboards. Attached to the roof of the Museum of Contemporary Art and cantilevered above the heads of viewers, Rubins’ gravity-defying sculpture is held together under tension through welds and wire.
“Boats are ancient,” says Rubins, “They have been with us throughout all of history and they have a very simple structure and functionality.”
The sculpture’s title is inspired by the words stenciled on a cache of boats that come from the idyllically named Pleasure Point Marina, located on a resort lake in Southern California. It’s the first work Rubins made using boats. The work is completed early 2006. A second work, with cast-off boats with the name Big Pleasure Point can be found in Manhattan, New York, was finished mid 2006.
Pleasure Point (2006)
Superused: Cast-off rowboats, canoes, jet skis and surfboards
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolle, California, USA