Shell Game (Forget Me Not)
Shell Game (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. 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 audio recording accompanying the piece plays ‘the sound of ocean acidification'—in this case, made by the dissolving of one of the artist’s baby teeth in acid.
Jenny Kendler: The Long Goodbye : MSU Broad Museum : Lansing, MI : Jan. 15 – Jun. 27, 2021