Nicholas Fraser

All Consuming

Nicholas Fraser’s All Consuming is a variation of a city distance sign, with two critical deviations: the cities named are extinct and the texts are edible cakes of birdseed. As hungry wildlife consumes this birdseed, they will transform legible characters into unidentifiable forms, resembling the ruins of cities uncovered by archaeologists. Located on the southern shoreline of Randall’s Island Park, the sculpture is continually in flux, evoking the cyclical nature of cities by harnessing natural processes to visually echo decay and ephemerality. Underscoring the diversity of New York by naming cities from a wide range of cultures, the sculpture positions both viewers and the city within a broad historical continuum, squarely in the line of succession of our forebears. The cities named may be dead, but their cultural heritage lives on in their direct descendants, all well represented in the boroughs neighboring Randall’s Island. With nature in the lead role, All Consuming provides a poetic reminder of the inevitable while gently suggesting we not ignore the part we play in hastening our own end

The Blog

All Consuming is All Consumed

My hungry collaborators have completed their work, stripping the 16 arrow-shaped signs of All Consuming of every seed in sight. Now each one points in the direction of its unnamed necropolis, ghostly and strange.

My Avian Collaborators are Diligent Workers

Everyone asks how long these birdseed letters of All Consuming will last and I can only guess. It's been three weeks since the final sign was installed and the smaller letters naming the years since each city existed are completely gone. And the larger letters naming each city are in varied states of wholeness. Some have already become illegible and broken into pieces, while others (Great Zimbabwe for instance) are still quite clear. I predict they may be entirely gone by the end of June.

Here are some dusk and evening shots from June 9th:

Opening Day and an Introduction to my New Collaborators

Opening day on May 30th was windy but beautiful and I talked to many folks about All Consuming. Almost everyone wondered how long the letters will last, something to which I can only guess. I'm eager to see how they faired after Sunday's heavy rains.

The birds are doing their part, with a selection of sparrows (?) and pigeons helping themselves to a feast. 

All Consuming-installation complete

The final sign, pointing toward the Malaysian city of Gangga Negara, was bolted in place on Thursday. After circling both signs and applying additional paint to small scrapes and scuffs, the installation is essentially complete.

We spot a couple birds perched on the signs but so far none have taken advantage of the bounty suddenly available. But with the spring migration under way, that will likely change and the signs will begin transforming.

Special thanks to Anne Arden McDonald (who took many of these great photos), Stan Narten and Margaret Vendryes for their invaluable help during this weeks installation. 

Poles arrive, Deb and crew perform Miracles of Levitation in their Erection, Concrete seals the deal

All the way from Texas, the four poles that Rob Swainston and I are using in our projects arrived last week. They're formidable-between 500-700 lbs each, 24' long. Deb's amazing turf crew helped us pull em off the truck and stage them near the holes. A few days later Deb pulled some strings and got these bohemeths upright and in the ground. We leveled and braced them, called in our concrete guy and were done by 2 pm. 


Special thanks to Deb, Matt and the rest of the turf crew, as well as the FODs (friends of Deb)...

the poles have arrived!! Now how do we get em down?

Deb and Matt and friends

Bracing the poles for concrete's imminent arrival

The Artist

Nicholas Fraser(b. 1969, Lakenheath, United Kingdom)

Nicholas Fraser's projects combine and recast texts and phrases from sources elevated and mundane. He explores our compulsion to communicate and the gap between what we intend to say and what's expressed. Often site specific and highly ephemeral, his work draws connections between histories and issues of the moment, making us aware of our position in a wider continuum.

Fraser began filming storefronts in 2010 for the ongoing project Fronts, collecting a comprehensive video-based, web accessible lexicon that also functions as a manifold portrait of contemporary street-scapes. He earned his BFA at the Atlanta College of Art (1995) and his MFA at SVA (2008).

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