Remember that old joke in the '70s and '80s? That after dinner, families brought out slides from boring vacations, and folks were forced to look at 500 photos of sunburns, ski trails, car rides. We were all documentarians of the mundane.
But as The Smiths would say, "that joke isn't funny anymore," mostly because people don't use slides or slide projectors, or any sort of film these days. Artist Kevin Arrow
, a collector of antiquated and obsolete media, music, and found objects including 35mm slides, had those scenarios somewhere in his mind when he created "amor infinitus" for the De La Cruz Collection
, opening this Saturday. Arrow was given 3,000 vacation slides by his aunt and he chose only four to use in the show.
Arrow noticed a pattern in the images of his aunt and uncle's travels all over the world in the '70s and '80s. His uncle would shoot his aunt waving at him from far away, and she would do the same of him. The composition of each photo shows the person always in the center of the frame. "They're waving to each other from the Great Wall of China or Egypt or Machu Picchu. You name a location -- they had travelled everywhere."
He took two of the most compelling images and made light boxes, installing them on opposing walls so that the couple is forever waving at each other. There's another image of his aunt at the Colosseum. "I think it is poignant and intense image, in a beautiful and lonely manner."
"I thought these were poetic images, in a way." There's definitely a succinct, little story being told. Arrow continues, "Instead of being snarky and ironic, I wanted to make sort of a sentimental gesture."
Arrow found about a dozen versions online of the couple's wedding song "Peg of My Heart," from rockabilly to old timey music, and used them as the soundtrack for the piece. Though his uncle passed away many years ago, he will bring his aunt to the show, but not on opening night.
In the collection of slides, he found two real anomalies. These photos were taken in the former Soviet Union, and instead of the friendly waves, "They stood rigid as poles." Those were the Cold War days, and even these happy travelers knew to stay in line. The images show not only a couple's habits, but landmarks at certain times in history.
Arrow has worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art for 15 years. He lives with his kids, wife, dog, pool, and mango tree on Miami Beach. He's been involved in a Miami Beach Art in Public Places project since 2004, creating a work to commemorate the welcoming of The Beatles to Miami Beach in '64. He also contributed a short film to Open Process at MOCA which documented the destruction of an Ocean Drive hotel that was torn down to build what was previously the Versace mansion, with a soundtrack of Harry Pussy.
Arrow's been an active part of the art scene in Miami since the '80s. With all the new movement and growth in the art world, he said, "I think what's happening down here is great. It's been lonely, kind of for decades, being an artist practicing down here."
"A lot of my artwork has to do with thrift shopping and yard sale-ing." Partially driven by financial restrictions, he's always looking to use materials that other people have discarded. "It's a way of sort of working green," he explains.