February 1, 2006 - Things That Fall - descends into its second year
February 1, 2006

descends into its second year

Joe Scanlan, Fake Nonsite, 2005
Powdercoated aluminum, yellow paper, wire, hot glue
42 x 40 x 40 inches

Things That Fall


Flower petals
Shipping Cartons
Commerce Books
Nesting Bookcases

Americans love destruction. Since September 11, 2001, it has become increasingly apparent that things that fall present unrivaled opportunities for emotional manipulation, economic profit, and political gain. Even the phrase itselfSince 9/11has become a reliable preamble to any situation that is ripe for exploitation. Whether world leaders, stock prices, the World Trade Center, or Martha Stewart, each thing that falls marks a downward motion that inspires widespread speculation about its eventual rise. It is a kind of blood lust. Not for the destructive event itself, but for the profits to be made after the event has taken place.

Economist Joseph Schumpeter called this cyclical drive creative destruction. By his definition, capitalism cannot advance without perpetually destroying itself in order to profit from its own regeneration. This reflex has become so innate to American culture that its media, its citizens, its politicians and its stockbrokers all crave things that fall solely for the gains that are certain to follow, and the reaffirmation of capitalisms ruthless success that accompanies them.

Even Robert Smithson, the conscience of American Art, understood that organizing rocks in metal bins for distribution and sale was not only a way to make the concept of entropy visible, but a way to profit from it as well. Just before he died, Smithson said as much when he told Moira Roth it was time for artists to stop trying to transcend the corruption of commercialism, and industry, and bourgeois attitudes. Lost in the glow of his current hagiography is the fact that when Smithson drew a comparison between the rosy escapism of art and the cruddy workings of commerce, he sided with commerce.

Thus a great shift is occurring in the American psyche. Where for the past forty years we have been obsessed with the upward potential of Warholian celebritythe belief that riches and fame can happen to anyone, and everyone will get their fifteen minutes worthwe are now obsessed with the downward potential of Smithsonian entropy, and the belief that everyone and everything will have its fall. Which means that not only has Americas mood changed, but its profit motive has as well.

Thats where we come in. Death! Destruction! Hurricanes! Snowflakes! Empires! Forsythia! Entropy! Theyre all here, all organized into nice simple categories that are pleasing to look at and easy to understand


Things That Fall
Share - descends into its second year
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York