The Elephant – 1989

The Elephant: Phase I. Arches paper covered with blown tires; active ant farm, powder pigment.

When I came back to Los Angeles in 1986, I was struck by the plentitude of tire parts on the city highways. Their massive forms looked like charred tree limbs on the side of the road and I began to collect them.

At the time, I called The Elephant a participatory event although I would now call it a tactical intervention. A host of collectors had come to my studio complex to shop for art and I blocked their entrance with my maze of tires. They were forced to enter the maze if they wanted to get to their scheduled task. Many entered at the edges but a few brave individuals moved through at the center, drawn to a familiar form from the childhood—an ant farm with ants dutifully charting their own pathways in sand.