Michael Ashkin

Bronwyn Keenan Gallery

In a certain sense, the single most important thing informing Michael Ashkin’s psycho-hobbyist dioramas is the fact that he grew up in New Jersey. He makes scale models of the parts of Jersey everyone likes to make fun of: the toxic industrial zones where nature has more or less packed it in and been replaced by decaying trucks and refineries, nasty smelling gasses and strange balls of flame. As for people, they come in machines, or not at all. The particular chunk of wasteland reproduced in #33, 1996, is a straight stretch of highway, bordered by a string of power lines, that runs through an oily lake. Everything here comes covered in the pellucid sheen and colors of chronic rot (Ashkin uses an appropriately poisonous substance called Envirotex to make his swamps); all the vegetation is patchy and exhausted, dying trees and grasses reproduced in the appropriate deathly colors. And in the

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