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Exile on Main Street (Wilde, Lam, Cleaver, Toklas)

  • Denniston Hill 43 Denniston Hill Road Monticello, NY, 12701 United States (map)

William Cordova, collaboration with Carlos Sandoval de Léon; co-sponsored by All Good Things, Aaron Burr cider, Brooklyn Brewery, Eminence Road Winery, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, M & S Goat Dairy, and Trussbridge Farm.

Featured Work:

moby dick (for oscar wilde, oscar romero, y oscar grant)


dimensions variable

reclaimed police cruiser, wood, felt, books, records, various personal items

interior design: carlos sandoval de león

project originally commissioned by Artpace, San Antonio, TX

The installation "Moby Dick" is a metaphor that originates from Moby Dick, the Herman Melville epic in which "the nihilist Ahab, drunk with power and crazed embodiment of an absolute will to dominate and conquer--fueled largely by wounded ego and worldly pride--leads his multiracial crew into the abyss of history, with the fetish of whiteness dangling before him." (1) This crew, like Ahab, pursues the symbolic white whale to their death, save for one--Ishmael--who survives drowning by holding on to a wooden coffin. Ishmael's trek transforms his expectations and assumptions of greed and grandeur into a deeper understanding of imperialism and destruction.

Cordova and De León's installation includes a reclaimed police cruiser cut in half with the passenger side left intact. Text written ont he exterior of the police cruiser references civil disobedience or subversive means of expression that evolved in New York in the early 1970s by Black and Latino youth who at the time called themselves writers using aerosol paint as a way to relate/connect during a period when there were few resources available for people living in lower-income communities. Young writers usually adapted monikers found in fantasy novels and comic books like Dondi, Lady Pink, Crash, Future 2000, and Rammellzee. All created and designed their own alphabets and unique styles of mark making. Similar styles of writing were selected for the exterior of the Moby Dick car project and applied as a way to acknowledge those pioneering artists. This time, "tagging" names of activists and literary writers like Edwige Danticat, Henry David Thoreau, Toussaint L'Ouverture, Marvin Dunn, Jean Genet, Camilo Cienfuegos, Nicomedos Santa Cruz, Micaela Bastidas and others were selected to embellish the surface of the police car as a means of marking, reclaiming, transforming one symbol into another. The vehicle (Moby Dick) also invites viewers to reconsider how to consume and experience things in a manner that requires meditation in order to achieve a deeper sense of understanding.

Earlier Event: September 5
Trout Spots
Later Event: June 25
Mulo (Mule)