Gallery Wendi Norris
161 Jessie Street (at New Montgomery), San Francisco, CA 94105
For Par Avion, Sydney-based artist duo Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro have acquired a small Cessna airplane, from a scrap airplane merchant in their native Australia. The artists then deconstructed the entire body by cutting it into small pieces and applying postage directly to the surface of each. These 69 parcels were then sent onward to Frey Norris by air freight over a period of a week and arrived by a much amused and occasionally confused postal carrier.
Par Avion in San Francisco, coincides with Are We There Yet?, the American museum debut exhibition for the artists at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C..
The final installation at Gallery Wendi Norris is comprised of the discrete parcels (cut up pieces of the Cessna) assembled in the configuration of the original plane within the gallery’s new media room. Par Avion, or Airmail, is French and the phrase often appears on a sticker or label indicating a letter should be sent by air. The artists think that it is apt that such postal etiquette should be placed upon the small parcels that once comprised a vehicle of air travel.
The initial impetus behind the piece lies within the literature that brings together ideas of individual freedom of movement and modern transportation. Fictional tales such as Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne, semi-fictional works such as On the Road by Jack Kerouac and non-fictional works such as From Peking to Paris by Luigi Barzini, put forward the idea of a global individual capable of spanning great distances in mechanised transport. Par Avion visually re-introduces the societal forces which make these travels possible: the Cessna is able to span the globe but only by reducing itself to components no larger than 3 feet long.
The wreckage of the plane that no longer has the capability of flying will be given new means of movement. The speed, maneuverability and size were once the distinguishing features of the aircraft. But these have now been stripped away, and the object of these qualities arranged as isolated components. The method of delivery might perhaps bring some order out of disorder, or lay to rest some of the intrinsic purposes of the original airborne machine.
A number of small origami folded airplanes, crafted from the skin of other aircraft and impacted into the gallery’s walls will round out the presentation of the Par Avion project.
Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro are internationally recognized collaborative artists based primarily out of Sydney and Berlin. Most projects involve the disassembly and reinvention of meaning laden objects, sometimes provided by the local populace, often at an enormous scale (such as the size of a building). These have appeared throughout Europe, Asia and Australia, including at the 53rd Venice Biennial. Par Avion is the pair’s first exhibition in the United States.
A catalogue published by the Corcoran Art Gallery is available with an essay by Beatrice Gralton, curator at the Corcoran.