Lounging Through the Flood
Jeremy Bolen + Jenny Kendler
92 life ring buoys, vintage lawn chair lounger, aircraft cable and ferrules, Behr outdoors paint in S350-1 "Climate Change"
Approx. 4 x 12 x 12 ft
About the work: Ninety-two years ago, the Mississippi River overflowed its banks, flooding more than 27,000 square miles of farms and townships, in an event known as The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. In this era of increasingly rapid climate change, these once rare events, so-called 1000 Year Floods, have become increasingly common, rendering absurd climate denialism which has brought us to this place in history. Evoking a madcap vessel built by climate refugees or disaster-wary survivalists—Lounging Through the Flood is a sculpture created to ride these rising waters.
This floating collection of ninety-two life preserver rings topped by a classic lawn chair lounger evokes a madcap structure built by climate refugees or survivalists stockpiling against disaster. Taking its cue from the uncanny irrationality of a society plunging headlong into environmental catastrophe, Lounging Through the Flood, asks us to consider the complex and particularly American constellation of apathy and survival, ingenuity and denial that plays out throughout the Mississippi River system and takes form in this piece.
Echoing the white-painted “ghost bikes” placed to memorialize cyclists, the sculpture’s one hundred life rings—which memorialize as many flood events—are also painted white: in this case an off-white with a curious name. The Behr Paint company calls this particular shade ‘Climate Change’—and without irony, suggests it harmonizes with ‘Back to Nature’ and ‘Rain Dance.’
The floating sculpture’s inaugural voyage occurred at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers near Cairo, Illinois—an area which has experienced devastating flooding since the beginning of 2019. After its time at Southern Illinois University, Lounging will continue to appear—both physically, and as a carbon neutral virtual artwork via the augmented reality app 4thWall—at other sites of fossil fuel infrastructure or flooding: a beacon for both cause and effect.
Simultaneously occupying an uncanny hope and a recognition of massive systemic failure, Lounging Through the Flood asks us to consider the complex—and particularly American—constellation of apathy and survival, denial and ingenuity which wends its way through our society, rushing towards environmental catastrophe.