Forget Me Not
Forget Me Not, 2020
Vintage boom box, sustainably-sourced shells, adhesive, cassette tape, and looped audio
In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, “Sailors’ Valentines”—elaborate mosaics made with colorful seashells—were popular gifts given by those returning from long oceanic voyages.The often contained messages such as "Think of Me, When Far Away" and "Forget Me Not." Here, Kendler has covered a vintage boombox in shells as a personal love letter to the sea. This work confronts the increasing acidification of the ocean, which is linked to the burning of fossil fuels and climate change. As the ocean takes up carbon dioxide and acidifies, marine organisms that rely on calcium carbonate for support and protection (like mollusks, crustaceans, and coral) face extinction. The boom box plays a vintage tape labeled as "soothing ocean sounds" which has been recorded over by the artist with ‘the sound of ocean acidification'—in this case, made by the contact mic-ing one of the artist’s baby teeth as it dissolves in acid, much like these marine creatures may one day if we choose to continue recklessly burning fossil fuels.
Jenny Kendler: The Long Goodbye : MSU Broad Museum : Lansing, MI : Jan. 15 – Jun. 27, 2021