Reflecting a world in transition, artists use their stage to wrestle with the past and confront contemporary issues of borders, boundaries, and labor.
Under a hazy blue sky on a hot and sticky June morning, Raven Chacon and Cristóbal Martínez circle the scrap heaps scattered along the grounds of the Carrie Furnaces in Rankin, just east of Pittsburgh. Over the next several hours, bare-handed and determined, the artists dig in, salvaging material to use in a monumental site-specific installation in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hall of Sculpture.
Accumulating in their “take pile” are pipes of all sizes, I-beams, tangled cables, hefty stacks of rectangular plates, what appears to be a locker, and a 9-foot ladder—all rusted steel vestiges of the now idle, hulking blast furnaces. Much of their harvest, some 11 tons in all, are remnants of the top of a towering hot-stove stack that, for safety reasons, was painstakingly disassembled last summer.