Artist as anthropologist

"Fahrenheit 451 Revisited: Conceptual Construction of Found Objects,'' by Ruth T. Segaloff, at Galatea Fine Art, Boston, Feb. 1-26.

She writes:

 “’Precious Legacies’  is a retrospective across time and generations. These artworks focus on three questions: ‘Who Am I?,’ ‘Where Did I Come From?’ and ‘Why Am I Here?’  George Santayana explained why this is important: ‘ Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Never has this danger been so close at hand.

“Thanks to my parents, I realized at a young age that objects hold our stories andour stories matter. I’ve been collecting things ever since, and I incorporate many into my art: family memorabilia and knickknacks from desk drawers and estates; baby shoes from antiques shops or gifts; wisdom written on coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets. The Modern Artist as anthropologist. Baby shoes over 70 years old are displayed in Holocaust museums across the world. They provide silent testimony that these shoes belonged to real children who most likely didn’t survive to adulthood. 

 ‘’’Fahrenheit 451 Revisited’ incorporates many themes of the show. It is based on Ray Bradbury’s 60-year-old science fiction novel of that name,  referring to the temperature at which paper burns. A demagogue declares books illegal and that owning them invites harsh punishment. In this climate of suspicion, family and neighbors betray each other. Firemen become burn squads instead of firefighters, wielding blow torches, not water hoses.  Dissidents safely hide and each memorizes a favorite book, then shares it with the others. Thus they keep alive the history of civilization, culture and values, all the qualities that make us decent human beings. 

‘’The Trojan Horse pull toy updates this story. It’s a cautionary tale, especially for us today, because what appeared to be a gift was actually a weapon of mass destruction. ‘’