The New York-based sculptor Keith Edmier has always had a knack for incorporating pop cultural icons, historical references and humorous allusions to literature into his work. The artist’s latest creation, Edison Impluvium, currently on view at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida SouthWestern State College, follows surely in this stead.
The gallery’s dramatic site-specific installation comprises a full-size replica of a concrete swimming pool from 1910 that currently still stands on the nearby (Thomas) Edison-Ford Winter Estates. Edison, the original namesake of the college, seemed an appropriate source of inspiration (Florida SouthWestern State College was known as Edison Community College until 2014).
Around the walls of the concrete pool, Edmier has installed a line of faces – 48 plaster masks, many cast directly from the faces of his subjects. In addition to renditions of himself at various periods of his life, Edmier’s masks include those of recognisable friends, such as former studio-mate Matthew Barney, David Bowie, Farrah Fawcett and more. The exhibition also includes a ‘full-head’ plaster death mask of Edison, displayed in Florida for the first time.
‘Edison’s Fort Myers pool is reimagined as an ancient ruin,' says Edmier. '[It] references both the Roman Republic-era idea of life casts as ancestral masks and the water basins – known as impluviums – in the atriums of houses like those found in Pompeii.’