Lounging through the Flood

August 20th, 2019

A sculptural comment on our apathetic frivolity in the face of climate catastrophe. 

Climate denial has manifested in myriad forms in recent decades, with even the realm lifestyle branding appropriating and seamlessly integrating apocalyptic terminology. Jeremy Bolen and Jenny Kendler’s project examines and questions this lineage underpinning our contemporary culture of apathy.

Ninety-two years ago, the Mississippi River overflowed its banks, flooding more than 27,000 square miles of farms and townships, in an event known as The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. In this era of increasingly rapid climate change, these once rare events, so-called 1000 Year Floods, have become increasingly common, rendering absurd both this nomenclature and the climate denialism which has brought us to this place in history. Lounging Through the Flood is a sculpture created to ride these waters, which define and demarcate an essential geography—a geography of not only of the American heartland, but of the American mind.

This floating collection of ninety-two life preserver rings topped by a classic lawn chair lounger evokes a madcap structure built by climate refugees or survivalists stockpiling against disaster. Taking its cue from the uncanny irrationality of a society plunging headlong into environmental catastrophe, Lounging Through the Flood, asks us to consider the complex—and particularly American— constellation of apathy and survival, ingenuity and denial that plays out throughout the Mississippi River system and takes form in this piece.

Echoing the “ghost bikes”—white-painted bicycles which memorialize cyclists—found throughout Midwestern cities, the lounger and tubes are also painted white: in this case a particular shade produced by the Behr Paint company, which was bizarrely given the evocative name “Climate Change.” [Behr’s website suggests this color harmonizes particularly well with “Rain Dance” and “Back to Nature.”] Lounging Through the Flood calls out this culture that accessorizes the apocalypse, offering a comfortable seat from which to watch it all drown…or, just perhaps, attain a better view.