Apr 20–Aug 5, 2007

Phoebe Washburn Vacational Trappings and Wildlife Worries


Phoebe Washburn, 2007

Ramp Project: Phoebe Washburn: Vacational Trappings and Wildlife Worries, 2007, installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.

Using massive amounts of collected scrap wood, Phoebe Washburn transforms ICA’s Ramp Space by constructing an environmental installation that is both accumulative and regenerative. Working on-site off of the existing architecture, she turns the windowed ramp into a makeshift terrarium/ aquarium. Viewers wander amidst a variety of water plants and underwater scenes housed in fish tanks nestled in a darkened wooden tunnel. Pumps and other necessary accouterments sustain the miniature, living landscapes of this green environment.

Washburn’s structures are typically enormous, architecturally-based, organic in nature, and complex. They are constructed out of bits of collected refuse. Having witnessed routine building processes evidenced in neighborhood construction, she is drawn not so much to the method by which a structure goes up, but rather to the more methodical acts of sorting, stacking, and organizing materials. She has said of her collecting process “I select objects that have already been worn, already marked, and already discarded because then they are already in the state I want them to be. They are what they are already.”
Phoebe Washburn

ICA acknowledges primary sponsorship of the William Penn Foundation for this project. Additional funding has been provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Dietrich Foundation, Inc., the Overseers Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art, friends and members of ICA, and the University of Pennsylvania. ICA is also grateful for inkind support from Loews Philadelphia Hotel.