Sunday, February 1, 2009

Part 3 NOCCA students respond to P.1: Angelica Robinson on Leandro Erlich

A Hopeful Structure by Angelica Robinson
Window and Ladder—Too Late For Help
Leandro Erlich
Lower Ninth Ward

We were on a field trip, riding around on a yellow bus and stopping at numerous Prospect 1 sites in the Lower Ninth Ward. We would stop at one site, look at it, take notes, take pictures and briefly discuss the piece of artwork. At the time I couldn’t really focus on what was in front of me. A couple of weeks earlier my Creative Writing instructors sat me down to discuss my grades. They informed me that I was failing. I had an F average in my test grades, which brought my overall grade down to C- average. If I didn’t bring my grade up by the end of the semester I would be kicked out of my arts school, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. I knew what the problem was. I hated reading the books that we were assigned and also had a part time job. I had been having these problems for quite some time, but I just always came through some how and slid by.

None of the Prospect 1 sites truly interested me and I began to become restless. The bus stopped again and we all got out again. As I walked closer the piece, it slowly began to capture me. A ladder floated with a window attached to it. It had a magical quality. The window looked like it was all that was left of a home, a brick house. The piece signified hope for me. It made me realize that I would actually have a way out of my problem.

The piece was titled Window and Ladder--Too Late for Help. The man responsible for the sculpture was Argentine artist, Leandro Erlich. I read this information from a green and white sign that I had chose to ignore earlier on. The sign also told what the piece was made of: a metal ladder, a fiberglass brick wall and an invisible aluminum frame, which was hidden beneath patches of grass. The frame made it possible for the ladder and window to stand. The sculpture didn’t stand straight, instead, it was slanted. This made the ladder appear to be struggling as it held up the window, which didn’t seem probable because the window is made of fiberglass. The bottom rung of the ladder was removed, to decrease the temptation to climb it, but I doubt that most spectators even realized this.

The location of a piece does influence the way it is viewed. Window and Ladder –Too Late For Help, was located between where the Levee wall of the Industrial Canal broke and the brightly colored, contemporary Make It Right homes, a Brad Pitt rebuilding project. Slabs of concrete, -- the porches and foundations of pre-existing homes – surrounded it. The dried straw-like grass and disconnected pieces of homes overshadow the rebuilding but they reinforce the idea of the piece.

As I talked to various people who have seen the Prospect 1 piece, none of them shared the same metaphorical meaning of the piece as me. When I talked to one of my instructors, she brought the political meaning to my attention. Although I didn’t share the same idea, I could understand why one would relate the sculpture to Hurricane Katrina and it explained the title of the piece. But it had more a hopeful meaning for me. In my life it represented hope whereas the title of the piece actually stated “Too Late for Help.”

Looking at art is just like reading a book or listening to a song. We all are experiencing the same thing, but we come out with different opinions.

The window is hope, the ladder and its rungs are all the steps and obstacles I had to over come to get where I needed to go. The strength of the platform underneath the surface made me think of the strength that I didn’t know I had, the hidden strength beneath the surface. The structure seemed to be weak, but once you got close to it, shook it, tugged it a bit; you realized it couldn’t be moved.

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