It’s rooted in one of the greatest myths ever told, by Christians, Muslims and Jews, as well as Mesopotamians, Sumerians, Ancient Greeks and Hindus. Granted the names have been changed, but in this case it was indeed to protect the innocents.
By innocents we mean the birds and the bees and the rest of their brethren, whether they walk, fly, slither or crawl. Those beautiful creatures which inhabit our beautiful planet and who may one day find themselves on the receiving end of Armageddon. That’s if they don’t go extinct beforehand.
Yes, you’ve guessed it, the subject is Noah; particularly his Ark, and all the beautiful creatures he kept safe from The Flood. But this ain’t Russell Crowe’s Noah; it’s more akin to something created by Joseph Cornell, had he crafted rather than sought out his treasured keepsakes. Yet in the hands of Medellin-born, Miami-based visualist Alejandro Franco, it’s still somewhat epic.
It’s also seriously whimsical and astutely concerned with the way we live now, and how the way we live now may just give way if we don’t make some serious changes. And if we don’t, well, we don’t. But no matter what we do or don’t do, Franco’s come to assure us that the things worth preserving will prevail. They just may need a bigger boat.
The story’s all there in “Entering the dArk”, a moving piece of static theater backed by the good folks at South Florida Ford and Fordistas, and soon to be seen at the inimitable Butter Gallery. This won’t be Franco’s first rodeo, but it will be his most animalistic. A round-up as dizzying as myth itself — and spun just right.
Here’s what Franco has to say on the subject at hand:
For those who don’t yet know, just who is Alejandro Franco and what does he do?
I am [a visual artist who’s] very passionate about miniatures, elements that are full of detail, theater scenography, craftsmanship, nature and subtle colors. I’ve been nurturing these passions and I incorporate them into my work.
If you had to sum up what you stand for in a single sentence, what would it be?
I stand for vocation, for finding beauty in places where it wasn’t so obvious it was there, for the poetry of the aged.
How ‘bout a single sentence summing up what you believe the purpose of art to be?
To leave a testimony as an individual who is aware of his environment.
Speaking of which, what’s the big idea behind Entering the dArk?
I’ve been developing this language of creating figures with fragments of wood and found objects. To put it into practice I am recreating the biblical scene of the animals entering the ark. The ark was replaced by a black hole, because the installation is about animal extinction; the animals closer to the hole are those closer to extinction, without being too scientific about it. The animals are created with discarded objects which represent the impact of humans in the ecosystem. The Bible can perfectly be appreciated as literature; that distances it in most cases from reality.
So The Ark is indeed the reason why you’ve capitalized the “A” in dArk?
Yes, Entering the Ark :: Entering the dArk.
Does your employing Noah as a spur, so to speak, have more to do with being Biblical or with the constellation of natural beings?
Noah represents human beings, which in many ways accelerate the process of extinction in the species. I wanted to advocate for animals in this installation because they are some of my greatest inspirations.
From where does Entering the dArk’s constellation of creatures spring from anyway?
I am very fascinated by animals, particularly in the sense of design; that was enough motivation to carry on with the work of depicting them in their physical aspect.
Are there any other particular creatives that influenced the creation of such creatures?
Yes, I am very inspired by the works of Joseph Cornell, David Hockney, Charles Matton, Robert Rauschenberg… and it shows in my work, always.
If you had to create a home for this constellation of creatures, what would it look like and where would it be located?
I really like the way the installation looks at Butter Gallery. The fact that you see the motion of the animals going in the same direction before you get to find out that they are heading towards a black hole. I like the idea of telling a visual story in more than one step. But ultimately, I would love for it to go to a place where it can be conserved as a whole.
Do you envision the creatures procreating into an even larger constellation?
No, I envision myself talking about other subjects with this same language.
Last, but not least, if you had to place a name on the entire brood you’ve created, what would it be?
Fragments of Today.
Alejandro Franco’s Entering the dArk, presented by Butter Gallery and South Florida Ford #Fordistas: August 8, 8pm at Butter Gallery 2930 NW 7th Avenue Miami.
WORDS BY John Hood