NEW YORK — Victorian home restorer/artist/steampunk enthusiast Bruce Rosenbaum and SoHo's AFA Gallery have teamed up to mount the first and largest art exhibition even dedicated to steampunk. Bringing together 18 artists with over 40 kinetic works, Rosenbaum has filled the gallery with the whirring and whizzing of lighting installations, furniture, time machines, submarines, airships, musical instruments, and a whole host of other “gizmos” and “gadgets,” all of them in keeping with the genre's funky futurism.
“Many of us are frustrated and confounded with black box technology, planned obsolescence, and rampant consumerism,” Rosenbaum told ARTINFO in an email interview, explaining his fascination with the genre. “Steampunk has become an alternative (a choice) and a solution to these difficult challenges by encouraging self-sufficiency, repurposing resources, and pride in craftsmanship.”
The exhibition, like the genre and its artists, is incredibly eclectic, encouraging the participation of viewers with its various fanciful yet functional objects. Tanya Clarke’s “Rango Drips” are working lighting fixtures in the form of illuminated water drips that dangle from open faucets. Rosenbaum and Gary Sullivan’s “Steampunk Wedding Time Capsule” is the anchor of the show, a clock that allows its owner to add mementos each year, to be opened at a set time and date, combining the elegance of an antique with the genre's romantic fascination with time travel.
Other, more eccentric artworks call for participants to stretch their imagination, from pieces like Russell Anderson’s wind-up, microscope-esque “Remote Effluxion Cloning Apparatus (RECA),” to Wayne Strattman’s neon green, lightning-emitting “Mesmer Ion Generator.”
Rosenbaum sees all this as more than just retro sci-fi fun. “A recycle, reuse, and refurbish approach speaks directly to our limited natural and financial resources, and offers solutions to these social issues by repurposing old items to make new ones,” Rosenbaum explained. “I think this is why people today — both makers and admirers — are interested in the culture.”
To see artwork from the exhibition click the slide show.