Everything and More
September 1-30 2021
Everything and More: Padding Ourselves from the Materiality of Excess
Andrea Nhuch | Shilpi Kumar
Everything & More explores cycles of production, consumption, and excess as a way of also understanding ourselves. What do we value? Where does the reality of our instantaneous access to products and fear of hoarding put us in relation to our spaces, our homes, and each other? Andrea Nhuch’s body of work, consisting of sculptures, assemblages and photography, considers the roles, metaphors and true long term costs of materials used in these cycles. Shilpi Kumar responds, questioning the ultimate consequence of these personal and collective choices. How might we really spend time examining our relationship to “waste” materials? Where would we find functionality? Find beauty? Find shame? What are the effects of this gross excess, for the planet and within our bodies?
The consumption behaviors of our modern lifestyle that were taught to us over the last 150 years are made possible by industrial production and its side effects. We welcomed innovations that meet our short-term desires and nudge our daily lives toward conveniences. These changes have mutated and fueled patterns, sometimes addictions, to the new items. Compulsions for collecting ‘things’ begin as benign habits of the individual but collectively, have garnered momentum. We are trapped in a cycle of continuous industrial production and consumption. E-commerce and globalization expanded this cycle from the stores to our door, pushing the ability to get things from anywhere in the world to our home with seemingly little effort. Anything that is shipped must be packaged and padded to survive the industrial conveyor lines and rough journey to us. These packaging materials accumulate to comprise 30% of the matter in landfills. The recent Covid pandemic has exacerbated these consumption habits and forced us to confront the excess, residing with these materials in even closer proximity.
Meanwhile, these materials — packing peanuts, bubble wrap, cellophane, styrofoam — are as toxic as they are familiar. While some could be recycled with improved outcomes, the effectiveness of such strategies has been challenging to enforce and sustain. These functional objects have a short-lived value, and are often shoved out of sight or into the waste system as quickly as they arrive. Anything kept too long can become an eyesore and create a perception of ‘hoarding.’ It’s important for the packing materials to stay extracorporeal, though we are able to embrace the intended purchased goods as our own.
Are we unwilling to look at the packaging because it reminds us of our own toxicities? Are we trying to avoid considering our responsibilities in the lifecycles of these objects? Do our perceived and fulfilled needs justify the ends, in this case: extreme amounts of excess waste? An alternative way of relating is possible, predicated on the keeping and collecting of that which is valuable, but necessitates a deeper relationship to the materials.
Nhuch and Kumar point us toward a new relationship to materials that reclaims “waste” and points us toward rest, healing, rebirth, and revolution.
Andrea Nhuch is a multidisciplinary visual artist who focuses on sculpture and installation, transforming ordinary materials that normally perform utilitarian tasks (mostly used in packaging or construction) into abstract objects. Her practice is characterized by the use of texture and volume to create space, expanding the surface until it protrudes into new forms. While elevating everyday negligible materials, her work is centered on playfulness and speaks to concepts of reinvention, protection, safety, authenticity, perception, and simplicity. Via her practice, Nhuch inverts value systems that confer status based on preconceived notions of authenticity, higher function, and typical material relationships. In her experimentation with inflatable plastic (bubble wrap), for instance, she creates a contrast between the essence of objects and their outward appearances, their envelope. A material that is ubiquitous within the art world, normally used to protect valuable objects, has its function subverted, pointing outward with its glitzy exoskeletons, containing nothing but air. Andrea was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, immigrated to the US at age 21 in 1994, lived in NYC and Miami, FL, currently lives and works in Los Angeles.