TABULA RASA by Leslie Lyons and J.B. Wilson


Dec 15th, 2016 – Jan 28th, 2017

Being human in the western world today has it’s foundation in Greco-Roman antiquity. Intellectual culture and science from that era have brought forth both the tragic figure – man having fallen from grace by his own doing – and the early scientific notion of the self and soul. So, it is with the Unswept Floors and Tabula Rasa series, that we reconnect with human practices and discoveries of ancient times to investigate evidence of our modern human exploits as well as to celebrate the necessary process of cleansing ourselves and starting over.
The Unswept Floors appropriate an ancient Roman home decorating trend in which wealthy Romans would commission a floor mosaic featuring Trompe l’ceil images of fallen food scraps from extravagant dinner parties. This layered practice of decadence involved having the means to import exotic foods, continued with serving them to a large number of guests, and then resulted in flaunting the entire engagement with a commission of artwork depicting the detritus of these feasts. The Greek artist Heraclitus is credited with the 2nd century BC “Unswept Floor” mosaic housed currently at the Vatican Museum.
This large and virtually intact work was recovered from a villa on the Aventine Hill outside Rome.
US currency, spent gun shell casings and, in direct homage to Heraclitus, various foods of modern indulgence are the material culture we use to design the pieces in this series; taking social issues and bringing them into a conceptual, interactive living space that unapologetically celebrates indulgence.
In the Tabula Rasa series, we simply remove the trappings of mythologizing human behavior and return to a place of rational accounting and purification.
This trajectory invokes the Greek philosopher, Thales, and the works are grounded in his belief that water is the originating principle of nature.
If the material culture denoted by the Unswept Floors explores the ego-driven manifestation of our identity, then Tabula Rasa offers a moment of redemption.

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