Zeke Moores: Useless
Text by Michelle Cantin-Reid
The common object reconstructed through skilful assembly and technique; casted, welded, and chased metal forms; almost perfect doppelgangers of the originals, this is how Zeke Moores’ work appears. Upon closer consideration, the materiality of these pieces comes to light. Deceivingly close to the real thing, they greatly diverge from the original.
From chromed steel Trashcans to the reconstructed Port-O-Potty made from cast aluminum and nickel-plated steel, Moores uses metalsmithing techniques to render his sculptures, usurping of the traditional modes of mass production as well as the disposable materiality that we associate with these objects. In his work, mechanised assembly line production and objects made to be thrown out or forgotten become a craftsman’s labour of love. As the disposable dejected everyday object is taken from the street and placed into the gallery, our use and imposition of a hierarchy on objects becomes apparent. However, it also speaks of the amount of work no longer done by people or often done by a series of anonymous workers in a repetitive but carefully choreographed dance with machines. We approach very differently a practical or a mass-produced object and one that is crafted.
These works also celebrate those objects designed for practical but not specifically aesthetic purposes. The imposition of a new materiality gives them durability and in the case of bronze casts or chrome plating a superficial prestige. Sitting in a gallery contemplated and beheld, the cast bronze Barrier is not unlike a monument or a statue. Though, these nobler materials are not wherein the beauty lies. Happy Meal’s precise metal fast food packaging form highlights the painstaking work that is cutting and assembling fabricated steel as opposed to the usually rapidly manufactured and disposable ones we know well. The nobility of the material is not important, and rather than simply elevating the common object, it prompts new readings.
Moores’ objects seem to hint at humour while remaining somewhat unsettling. His cast aluminum Axes have an altogether different relationship to their materiality. Moulded, casted, and multiplied through the process, they attack the gallery wall in their display as a tasteful graphic composition. The aluminum becomes a more subdued signifier than in many of the other pieces, though their process of fabrication stands out strongly.
Through these variations, studies, and experimentations dealing with materiality and objecthood, Moores’ sculptures hit on many aspects of our cultural, political and social economies. Their material deviations do not necessarily allow for immediate universal associations, and so ultimately, they are deceptive in their seeming simplicity.