For this edition of Fan Mail, Silas Inoue of Copenhagen, Denmark has been selected from our worthy reader submissions. Two artists are featured each month—the next one could be you! If you would like to be considered, please submit your website link to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Fan Mail’ in the subject line.
With some chicken legs weighted and tied to strings, my friend and I set out to catch some blue crabs in an intertidal creek near the city of Charleston. Not having caught a crab since I was kid, it was intuition and internet research that guided us, and overall much easier than anticipated. Catching a few males with big claws at first got us excited and knowing what to look for. We threw back all the little ones or inspected them on the dock and let them run backwards in attack mode, flopping back into the water. Looking out on the surface of a creek, you know that there is biomass down there, and you know what you can expect to find, but to know exactly all of what is below you is not possible. When floating in a boat, you can drag a line behind you and feel the range of subtle vibrations and hard jerks across the floor and imagine it like you are a sonar-mapping machine. Maybe that’s an oyster shell, but maybe that’s a bite. The tides bring in new animals and wash them out again. Where there once were crabs there might be none anymore. The unknown drives us forward. We get a dozen crabs for dinner.
The shape of an iceberg below the surface of the water is unknown but knowable. The conscious mind knows only a fraction of itself. Silas populates an iceberg with structures as though it is a floating island, a destination. The unreal view of the iceberg with its great mass below has been visually parodied even before explorer Ralph A. Clevenger put together his famous photomontage from images taken in the Arctic and Antarctic, so visually captivating it might seem to be real. The phrase “tip of the iceberg” suggests that there is much more to know—and it may be surprising what is discovered. Tourism, applied to the surface of the drowned ice, is a luxury that spreads across the globe like an invasive species. Microbes are frozen in the ice. The economy must always grow and expand. Buildings and cities are temporary, artifacts on a longer timeline. Ancient fertile crescent cities came to prosper with the control of nature. They controlled their water as a means to creating wealth. Stabilizing nature makes us safe from it and lets us prosper. This man/nature division is a human survival technique.
A spiraling water vortex seen from the surface, its black-hole center suggests a brooding, turbulent ocean. The spiral reminds me of the shape of our galaxy, also the shit that we flush down the toilet, and the known and tentatively proven dark matter. Eddies and swirling winds are forces that can move icebergs.
Ideas and forms are rewoven on the artist’s trajectory in an intuitive way. A disco ball is a covered earth-like thing, like the iceberg. The ball is plated with metal parts looking like gridded city blocks. My perceptions of global climate change, apocalyptic fear and yearning, and existential considerations frame the images necessarily, my mental state, and maybe part of yours too. Some generalizations about the end of the world: the apocalypse will benefit the weakest in society. It would be a great equalizer. Artists like the apocalypse. Titans of industry want a static world. The apocalypse means a great shredding of current systems. Oppression and wealth, these were illusions that became social reality. True reality is the dynamism of nature left after a catastrophic event, the spur of evolution. The apocalypse is a bridge to the new world, a shift that allows the thinker to imagine a better world.
Waves of change are always on the horizon. A sandy island appears as solid land though it is likely to overwash and shift with the next big storm. Waves of change have essentially formed our world, but man is apt to see consistency and wants to stabilize our systems of thought. Logic is unyielding. Damage happens when our system fails, a levee break, new inlets form. Static vision is pervasive, though change is constant, quoted again and again. Those who don’t believe in the supernatural or heaven are free to use fresh theory when considering the end-times. We are in the process of covering the finite world. We have not yet finished up all our resources.
Silas’s recent solo exhibition, Marathon of the Spiritual Ape at MOHS Copenhagen, was bound by “the general need of humanity to conquer, compete and exceed oneself” as it examined forms such as trophies using a variety of media. Examining a wide range of cultural content, the art is neither prescriptive nor instructive. He challenges concepts of status and power, and their illusory nature, which guide valuation of a life lived. Silas’s body of work is allowed to be disparate and process-oriented, suggesting a repetitious and obsessive approach in its complexity and intricacy of detail, but also filled with humor, wit, and sarcasm. Often patterning space rather than rendering objects, the linear and graphic work shows a direct connection to his life as a muralist and printmaker. Silas is a graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design, MA in Visual Communication.