Wendy Coburn: Silent Spring

  • ©2008, Wendy Coburn, Silent Spring


    Silent Spring

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    47 x 16.5 x 14 cm

Artist Statement:

    Somewhere between 2005 and 2007, Wendy Coburn found a consumer-grade pesticide sprayer in her neighbourhood. It was an elegant machine, with a wooden-handled pump and silhouettes of numerous species of insects mapped over the barrel. For Coburn, “It was a beautiful object that claimed no discretion or bias in its task.” With as much attention to detail and terrible beauty the artist has replicated the spray gun in bronze. Titled Silent Spring, the sculpture is directly inspired by Rachel Carson’s germinal 1962 text of the same name. With remarkable foresight Carson warned of the dangers of synthetic pesticides, and in fact referred to the chemicals as biocides for they were toxic to all living beings. A prescient allegory comprises the first chapter of Silent Spring. Titled Fable for Tomorrow, it tells the story of a vibrant country village whose children and elders, meadows, creeks and skies, fall prey to a strange silence as a white dust covers the countryside. Coburn redirects this story to her own community. Fearing for her loved ones, she etched the names of friends and family across the spray gun equating her human companions with the endangered lives insects, animals and  botanicals that Carson so vigorously defended.

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