Quality Control is an ongoing project that is composed of hollow ceramic bricks, slip cast from naturally occurring clay that I harvest from the sites of former brickworks. The clay is cast into molds that I make of bricks found at the various sites, where my labor as an artist echoes the once active factories that have since disappeared. The bricks are used to form improvised structures, held together with mason line, that react to the specific location in which they are installed. They are intended to be temporary, and never installed the same way twice.
Freed from their need to function in the usual sense, my bricks are broken open to reveal hollow interiors. Something has slipped away, or perhaps was never there to begin with. In a sense, Quality Control is a longing for that which has been lost—buildings are torn down, people die—but a longing that has become aware of its contradictions. For instance, if you see an older brick building in New York City, there is a good chance that it is made from clay found along the Hudson River, also known as Muhheakantuck (“river that flows two ways”) by the Lenape people before European arrival. In the 19th and early 20th century, the Hudson Valley was one of the largest brick producing regions in the world. Structures including the Empire State Building used Hudson River bricks for their construction, creating a feedback loop of the expansion of a city on stolen land with resources from that stolen land.
With this serving as the unacknowledged backdrop, brick is often used as a marker of authenticity to express nostalgia for a bygone era, before the advent of glass, steel, and concrete, put in the service of validating the empty commercial aims of corporate chains or real estate developers. Exposed brick is the calling card of chic cafés and luxury lofts. It is alluring for good reason: a constant presence that is comforting in its simple strength, you feel you can count on brick. It is a ubiquitous, ancient material; a basic unit, made of earth, shaped and then fired, repeated billions of times to construct our built environment.
The structures I assemble are a response to these realizations, inviting a weightlessness that transcends the aforementioned unyielding quality of brick, in search of a new equilibrium. They are no longer required to bear any weight, allowing light and air to pass through, discarding the hubris of monumental permanence. Mason line is normally used to create straight lines to follow when building walls, but here it has replaced mortar as the joining substance. It can be cut at any time, and the forms adjusted. The mason line creates a complimentary pattern to that of the bricks, forming a network of relationships, where each brick becomes a node in a larger system.