Doug Beube
Tar Spill: Installation

1987
alfalfa seed, straw pulp, metal, wood
36 x 24 x 12 in.
Paper made of straw pulp and seeds is stacked in a pile to form this book. Daily watering allows the sprouts’ growth, pushing the pages apart. This fully revealed, living “text” became the basis of the Tar Spill installation, my tribute to Robert Smithson’s Asphalt Rundown (1969). At the opening, I slowly poured steaming black tar over the book. The sound of singeing sprouts was audible, as if the living pages, smothered by the tar, had gasped their last breath. The sweet aroma of the remaining live sprouts became a rotten stench about a week later as the process of decay set in. The life cycle of any book was here reenacted on the model of a living organism.
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