Steve Turner Contemporary is pleased to present Solar Nothing, a solo exhibition by Mexico City-based artist Edgar Orlaineta. It features a group of sculptures inspired by Charles Eames’ 1958 Solar Toy. The toy was part of Aluminum Company of America’s (Alcoa) Forecast Collection, a program initiated to promote the potential of aluminum in industrial design. Eames was invited to participate with only the requirement that he design something in aluminum.
Without a mandate for a specific function, Eames wanted to design something that would not do anything, but that would still be something. To that end, he designed the Solar Toy, a mobile sculpture whose movable parts would be powered by the sun. The prototype toy was designed in Eames' Venice, California studio.
Though the toy was never mass-produced, and the original toy is now lost, it did receive a lot of attention which Orlaineta has rediscovered through his extensive research. Based on his findings, he has produced new versions of the toy applying the traditional Mexican craft of Hojalateria (artistic tinware) to recycled aluminum cans. While Orlaineta’s project fits squarely within his artistic practice of recontextualizing modern design to demonstrate aesthetic, and social values, it also reveals the irony of Alcoa supporting alternative energy in the 1950s considering its more recent environmental record.
Edgar Orlaineta: Solar Nothing is timed to coincide with Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. Organized by the Getty Research Institute, Pacific Standard Time is a collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California, coming together for six months beginning in October 2011 to tell the story of the early Los Angeles art scene and how it became a major new force in the art world. Orlaineta’s project at Steve Turner Contemporary will be especially noteworthy because of its relevance to California Design, 1930-1965: Living A Modern Way, the exhibition that will take place across the street at LACMA.