Materials come with baggage, layers of history, social meaning, and emotional preconceptions, all of which contribute to their perceived character. Glass is an honored material, surrounded by respect and admiration, equipped with an arsenal of art techniques that render it as ultimately precious. Throughout its millennia-long history, it accompanied people in high places of reverence and distinction, whether it took a form of medieval stained glass, heraldic glassware, or a cast glass award.
On the other hand, its ultimate look-alike and the most despicable imitator—plastic, especially in the form of containers, is a fitting metaphor for our society’s modus operandi. While providing neat packages that appear transparent, plastic insulates us from issues loaded with potential discomfort, directly connected with its origin and use. Catering to our insatiable appetite for what is perceived as conveniences and hastily dismissed after a single use with a minor pang of guilt, discarded containers that come in all imaginable shapes and sizes are indeed the shells of our consumerist urges.
In my work, elaborately ornate glass is molded over plastic, and plastic, in turn, is heat-shaped to mimic the glass; two materials appear to be fused together. Even though stained glass, instead of windows, is mounted on plastic, it still attempts to tell stories even if they can’t be easily deciphered.
These interactions allow me to examine connections between disposable and indispensable, to see how those can become interchangeable, and how the materials we use and dispose reflect on our self-perception and reveal our vulnerability.
And that’s what the refuSZed is.
refuSZed shows artwork created:
- by Sasha Zhitneva, an artist/glass fuser
- With objects refused after their first and the only assignment
- By re-fusing those into new beings in which the bastard cousins are paired with and often indistinguishable from their highly regarded glass counterparts