Each time Kennedy Yanko (b. 1988, USA) enters a metal yard or a demolition site in search of new materials, she begins an intuitive process of attraction— a process Yanko describes as reclamation. 'I'm stopping the flow of discarded objects on their way to oblivion,' she says. These scraps and hunks of metal, supposedly at the end of their useful lifespan, are given new context in Yanko's work. They form the basis for novel aesthetic phenomena; starting points for new visual and phenomenological experiences.Read More
The metal yard is an overwhelming place. Trucks full of scrap pull up and dump thousands of pounds of renounced steel, while an eight-foot magnet swings and throws metal across the refuse heap. The discarded metal is piled 20 feet high. 'I can't climb up the mountains of metal,' Yanko says. 'I can just look.'
Essential to the selection process is Yanko's ability to perceive that for which her reclaimed materials are asking. Sometimes she ascertains information from aesthetic characteristics. 'I consider myself a natural colourist,' Yanko says. 'It's the first thing I think about. I feel a longing for cool, minimal tones and colours right now. I'm also drawn to a specific kind of shape, a curve, or angle. Anything that's off a little bit. I generally don't like straight lines.' Other times, Yanko is drawn to industrial and derelict qualities, like those of an old elementary school radiator. 'When I find something like that, I go for it,' she says. Yanko's attraction to her materials is not only visual. It is elemental. 'I am taking something with its history and its story and recognising what it is beyond its story,' she explains. 'As opposed to the past, I'm interested in the material in the present moment.'
Back in her Brooklyn studio, Yanko blends the reclaimed scrap metal with handmade paint skins. The paint skins—pure in colour, flexible, and new—are in some ways the antithesis of the reclaimed materials. Their physical, visual, and allegorical characteristics nonetheless co-operate poetically with the derelict beauty of the metal, leading to moments of balance, conflict, and, Yanko hopes, surprise. 'People may not really know what they are looking at, materially, or conceptually,' she says. It's abstract, but also represents a concrete inevitability—an objective outgrowth of processes and materials. 'Something kinetic is going on,' she says. 'It's not a story; it's a moment.'
Text courtesy Kavi Gupta.