Michael Queenland

Kristina Kite Gallery
3400 W Washington Blvd
December 9, 2017–February 10, 2018

Michael Queenland, Untitled (Eye), 2017, marble, granite, ceramic tile, dye sublimation tile, wood, metal frame, 80 x 32 x 1".

Spazzatura, the Italian word for “trash,” is more specific than the generic rifuiti (which can be translated as “refuse” or “waste”) and is certainly more fun to say. Sharing a root with the Latin verb spatior—meaning “to walk around”—the word suggests a connection between the detritus on the street and the activity of walking by it. One person who clearly doesn’t bypass trash, though, is Michael Queenland, whose solo exhibition “Roam” comprises a grouping of floor-bound tile sculptures ornamented with high-resolution scans of trash, refuse which the artist happened upon while walking through the streets during his residency at the American Academy in Rome.

Stepping into the role of taxonomist, Queenland gathered this collection of rubbish and divided it into categories. Discarded cigarette packs recur most often, with their shrieking, bold typographic reminders that inhaling their contents only hastens death (IL FUMO UCCIDE), and their disturbing, graphic photographs of cancerous holes in the throat (Untitled [Orifice], 2017), milky eyes (Untitled [Eye], 2017), and various other spectacular ailments (Untitled [Hardships], 2017). A group of twisted champagne muselets, Untitled (Underfoot), 2017, looks as if it were a graphic line drawing against the stark white tile, giving form to the drunken debauchery that no doubt occasioned their disposal. Also included here is a series of framed works from 2012 in which photographs of dead bodies found in the New York Times are matted side by side with the images in reverse—a kind of chance operation with sometimes surprising results. These cadavers, many of which were left out in the open, like so much spazzatura, were the result of a daily violence forgotten, and now remembered.

— Andy Campbell