During my most recent visit to Kurt Steger’s Bushwick studio I was accompanied by filmmaker Kai Nottapon Boonprakob. Steger’s studio is neatly arranged, a gallery of artworks and processes. Much of the works from his Urban Structures series of sculptures line one long wall, while a workshop table sits towards the rear of the studio surrounded by an array of tools and a display of works from his Gravitational Constructions series. The largest work, Meltdown, lays in wait, tucked into a corner, and it is this work that we began to focus on. Boonprakob’s short film, presented here, follows Steger as he assembles Meltdown and discusses the motivations behind his work:
“Meltdown focuses on ritual, community, and the environment. I invite viewers to participate in the creative impulse, as together we watch suspended ice drip onto a sheet of paper. Participants manually rotate the paper, and the melting ice creates a Zen-like circle of urban stains. Mixed into the ice are materials such as carbon, rust, soil, and locally harvested toxic waters. As we observe the process, we are brought into the present moment as a community with a common focus – an isolated drip. Just as our ancestors sat around the fire to tell their stories and share their wisdom, I invite participants to converse, share their present experience, and talk about their lives.
My love for nature and deep concern for the environment pervade my work. Whether it’s melting polar icecaps or our devastating carbon footprint, we’re on the brink of an epic meltdown and in need of radical solutions. My work addresses the psychological meltdown that occurs as we witness the extinction of species and the peril of our own existence. By inviting people to sit in a circle and create a piece of art, I offer the space to share our fears, acknowledge our vulnerability, and tap into our innate wisdom. It is here, in the collective unconscious, where we come together to co-create sustainable solutions.” – Kurt Steger
You can view more of Steger’s work on his website. His work is currently on view in STRUCTURES, a group exhibition at Manny Cantor Center in Manhattan (December 17th, 2015 – January 21st, 2016). His solo exhibition opens at Art Helix in Brooklyn on January 8th and runs through February 7th.
Keith Schweitzer is a New York City based arts organizer, curator and producer. He is Co-Founder/Director of The Lodge Gallery, located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He is also Director of Public Art for Fourth Arts Block, the nonprofit leadership organization for Manhattan’s officially designated Cultural District in the East Village. You can find him on Twitter as @Keith5chweitzer, and on Instagram as @pseudohaiku.