The cliché that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure realizes its poetic potential in the work of Zeke Moores, whose practice interrogates systems of value and brings the social and political economies of everyday objects to light.2 In Discards, Moores opts explore not large-scale objects of transportation or utility, as he has done in the past, but instead looks to some of the most mundane and understated of objects; propane tanks, sheets of Styrofoam, cinderblocks, the lids of mass-produced plastic garbage cans, dilapidated cardboard boxes. Cast in aluminum and bronze, the sculptural works in Discards predominantly showcase subdued metallic hues rather than gleaning refractions of light (as in Moores’ memorable 2010 sculpture, Dumpster, which exhibited at Art Mûr in 2015). Almost-seamlessly passing as the objects they purport to be, the sculptures perform a kind of camouflage that is only betrayed by their slight sheens and juxtaposing gallery setting. Within the encounter between artwork and viewer, the sculptures perform a confusion of signs that muddies the boundaries between art-object and utilitarian object, chipping away at ensconced social and economic hierarchies of value.
Trained as a blacksmith and founder, Moores’ engagement with materiality in his works has an almost alchemistic quality. In Sign (2013) for example, the particular optical-texture Moores achieves through the patterning of irregular forms causes the sculpture’s surface to not only resemble but to simulate woodchips. Indeed, the object could be more easily deciphered as a particleboard upon which the artist has sprayed a layer of aerosol paint, than as aluminum, for which the smooth and sleek texture feels necessary to its constitution. Similarly, in Untitled (Styrofoam), the familiar spherical beads that make up the quotidian packaging material are immediately recognizable, making the realization that this sculptural object (affixed to the wall like a painting) is not Styrofoam at all nearly inconceivable. The disjuncture in Moores’ works between linguistic signifiers (his artwork titles and didactic information) and visual signifiers is not only politically productive, but a true sensorial treat for anyone fortunate enough to encounter his enchanting ontological magic tricks.
Originally from Newfoundland, Zeke Moores currently lives and works in Windsor Ontario. Moores holds a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and graduated from the MFA program at the University of Windsor, Ontario in 2005.