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This Apocalyptic Tableau Has a Dr. Seuss-ian Twist

Dustin Yellin told The Creators Project how Marcel Duchamp, Hieronymus Bosch, and 'The Lorax' influenced his most recent work.
A detail of the 9th panel. Images courtesy of GRIMM Gallery

If Marcel Duchamp had attempted to mash Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights up with Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, the result might have borne a striking resemblance to an epic work that Dustin Yellin recently debuted in the annual Amsterdam Art Weekend.

10 Parts, presented by GRIMM Gallery, is an exhibition featuring several works made in Yellin’s distinctive sculptural style in which print media is cut-out and sandwiched between layers of glass. The title of the exhibition refers to a 20-foot-long tableau that combines countless pop culture references in ten modular sections. According to a statement by GRIMM Gallery, “10 Parts offers a nightmarish vision of the future of humanity falling into the abyss—a reference to the pre-Socratic Flat Earth theory. Following Hieronymus Bosch as an example, Yellin fuses elements from our everyday experience with his imagination to form hallucinatory scenes. But in this case, the end of times is precedented by global warming and corporate greed.”

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10 Parts by Dustin Yellin

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The first panel of 10 Parts


First panel detail

Like the boisterous forces of nature it depicts, Yellin tells The Creators Project, the unique layout of the 10-part piece, also called 10 Parts, took on a life of its own. “It grew out from the center, it started as three panels and kept expanding until I was satisfied with the composition. It ends up being this analog version of some virtual reality experience—a futuristic daguerreotype or something. It’s also broken up into these self-contained, generalized ecosystems that further that image for me—snow level, water level, tropical level—you can even identify a protagonist in each module. I imagine there are myriad protagonists to be identified and that an infinite number of narratives could be woven from the found images.”

Yellin also makes a whimsical analogy between the format of the work and modernist art concepts. “There’s a dual nature to the cubes in this work—cubism, ice. The motion is at once segmented, broken up and constant, like a cubist painting. It’s an entirely different way to observe motion, like [Marcel Duchamp’s] Nude Descending a Staircase but for the plight of humankind.”

A video shared by GRIMM Gallery illustrates the elaborate process involved with installing 10 Parts

Ultimately, Yellin’s work highlights the absurdity of the ongoing debate over issues like climate change and laissez-faire capitalism, when the consequences of these situations were so clearly pointed out by a children’s book 45 years ago. “I mean, look at The Lorax. The Lorax was saying this in 1971—Dr. Seuss was telling us kids—to look out for global warming, for the end of times that corporate greed can bring. That was a call to ecological consciousness and so is this. I guess it’s funny that the tree gets chopped down at the end of the Lorax and this landscape is chopped up into ten pieces,” says Yellin. And this isn’t the first time that Yellin has referenced boxes (or cubes) to say something reminiscent of The Lorax. In his 2014 TED Talk, Yellin warns, “This delusion of difference—this idea of countries, this idea of borders, of religion—doesn’t work. Like, we’re all really made up of the same stuff—in the same box—and, if we don’t start exchanging that stuff sweetly and nicely, we’re all gonna die real soon.”

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Another work in the exhibition is from the Psychogeographies series and depicts a human-sized figure.

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An untitled landscape

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Untitled landscape detail

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The last panel in 10 Parts

10 Parts is on view at GRIMM Gallery in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, through January 7th, 2017. See more of Dustin Yellin’s work and Pioneer Works, a multidisciplinary art and science center Yellin founded in Brooklyn, on his website.


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