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Invasion of the plastic animals Italy's Cracking Art Group brings a big dose of kitsch to Kampa Gallery Review By Tony Ozuna For The Prague Post September 17th, 2008 issue The area outside Museum Kampa has been guarded the past couple months by 3-meter-high red poodles, with an equally large red bulldog posted on the terrace. The courtyard has been overtaken by huge plastic rabbits — all courtesy of the Cracking Art Group, a provocative and eco-friendly art collective founded in 1993 in the northern Italian town of Biella. These cute creatures, created from recycled plastic, serve as an enticement for a must-see exhibit of the group’s other works in the museum’s gallery space. After passing the gigantic orange rabbits in the courtyard, visitors are greeted at the gallery entrance by a couple of bright yellow penguins; these serve as peppy little ushers, contrasting with the starker works in the first room of the museum’s permanent collection. When you enter the room devoted to Cracking Art Group, the dignified space of Museum Kampa is transformed into a candy store of colorful plastic, like a mad scientist’s lab or veterinarian’s office gone wild. Three large Chihuahuas (2007), painted tip to tail in shocking blue, orange and pink, sit at attention, wearing designer tennis shoes on their front paws. Lime-green penguins gaze into or out of the gallery from their positions at the riverfront windows. They could be monitoring their brood of three dozen yellow penguins situated outside, on a platform along the river. Indoors, there are also groups of smaller animals from the “Cloned” series (2002) by William Sweetlove. Little green panthers seem to be walking on plastic water with pearls and dried chili peppers immersed in it. Blue panthers walk in water with floating apple slices and pink eggs. Cloned antelopes, horses, lions, giraffes and even orange elephants are bunched in a tool box, floating on water from which mushrooms are sprouting. Paintings from the “Contamination” series (2008) by Marco Veronese combine photographed images of Old Master paintings, reworked, set under Plexiglas and padded in silicon. These are most effective when Veronese subtly blends his background of silicone drops, merging the colors into images such as butterflies or autumn leaves on top of iconic works like Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring. Veronese also exhibits a series of paintings titled “Contemporary Fossils” (2007), which use drops of silicone in combination with images of seashells and fish in the background, or images of the earth with vast seas made from white or clear silicone and the American continents in blue. Alex Angi is showing nine works from 2005–07 that are like a mass explosion of plastics. His works on the wall are more sculpture than painting — essentially squirts of plastic, like mounds of oozing multicolored tubes, some resembling flower stems with ice cream cones at the ends. Another piece is like an alien totem pole formed by a tall stack of blue spheres with funky outgrowths. Carlo Rizzetti’s “Migraine” series (2006) has Roman columns smartly painted in bright pink, blue, yellow or toned-down “stone.” Mounted on the columns are heads of an old philosopher, long beard and all, each one offering a different variety of fruits, vegetables and other matter stuffed into the hair and around the neck. Renzo Nucara has the largest paintings in the show, all from his “Resenfilm” series (2007). These are abstract splatters of paint and molten plastic with objects embedded onto the canvas, including film strips, leaves, assorted paper scraps and even a wrench. A series of wall-mounted works by the single-named Kicco titled “2008” is the most topical, addressing global warming. Life-size penguins created from clear silicon look like they are made of ice. Some are placed on oval, reddish-colored mirrors crisscrossed with slashes of silicone. Others are lined up in rows and set in ice cubes. Letters on their bodies spell out the word “Frost.” Two other works also feature rows of penguins: “Hot” is written below one group over a sky of gold, and “Ice” is written below the other group, over a sky of blue. While the collective works of Cracking Art Group are partly inspired by Jeff Koons’ kitsch, they also make a mockery of the recent “evolution” in art history. They are more akin to works by the early Dadaists such as Kurt Schwitters, a great collector of rubbish for his proto-recycled artworks. With its tacky affront to “fine art,” Cracking Art Group’s activist attitude produces a true art for the people, effectively combining politics and humor and with an eco-ethos.treadmill4
View of the pulley on the lathe main shaft. I needed to come up with a way to utilize the plastic drive pulley from the tread mill so I could use the existing motor drive pulley and belt. (No money spent!) (It would be simple to turn a matching pulley for the tread mill motor and use a v-belt) I bored the small end of an old 3 step motor pulley to just fit over the lathe spindle. (the pulley was in my junk, you could easily make a spacer or turn a cone shaped device to achieve the same thing, it needs to be spaced out far enough so that you can still access the upper change gear) I had to make an internal wrench in order to tighten the outer lock nut so as to maintain the correct pre-load on the bearings. Next I made a temporary adapter to fit between the metal and the plastic pulley to keep them perfectly aligned while I drilled the 4 no. 10-32 holes to hold the plastic pulley on to the metal one. If the 2 pulleys are not perfectly aligned the balance will be off and vibration will be a problem. The depth of the pulley was needed to provide enough clearance to allow all the change gears to be used. A word about the motor pulley. The tread mill motor shaft is threaded 1/2-13 LEFT HAND!! SO: it works great as I have it mounted, but....if you reverse the motor or mount it with a different alignment, it will spin the pulley off! Either put a key way on the motor shaft and the pulley, or put a flat on the motor shaft and use a set screw through the pulley center.
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