Smack Mellon is pleased to present Ghost of a Dream’s latest installation, When the Smoke Clears: The Fair Housing Project and Bobby Neel Adams’ photo series Memento Mori.

Ghost of a Dream breathes new life into discarded materials once destined for a landfill with their multimedia installation When the Smoke Clears: The Fair Housing Project.  Refuse dug up from the heaps of trash created by art fairs from across the US are reclaimed as building materials to create a small house and other art objects. Surrounding the house, a multi-channel video shows the structure situated by a lake and slowly reveals its unnatural disappearance from its previous location.  Making a comparison to the housing market, the work questions the long-term sustainability of the art market and the wasteful nature of the art fairs’ capitalistic ventures.

Bobby Neel Adams’ ongoing photo series, Memento Mori, pays homage to the many species that have been pushed to the brink of extinction and to their natural habitats left devastated by human progress.  In the tradition of Vanitas paintings, Adams creates delicate compositions using found animal carcasses, dead insects, and flora indigenous to the region. The richly saturated still lifes memorialize these neglected lives and call attention to the rapidly changing and interlocked relationship between nature and human expansion. 


Ghost of a Dream, When the Smoke Clears: The Fair Housing Project

When the Smoke Clears: The Fair Housing Project explores the position of art fairs in the contemporary art world and their effect on the artist, collector, spectator, the art itself, and the world surrounding these things. Using collected detritus from art fairs across the United States we have built a small house and a series of other objects and paintings to draw focus on both the wastefulness and the impact of the art fair system.

Art Fairs have become a necessary evil in the art world with almost every major city in the world hosting one and vying to be the biggest and most elite. Many galleries now make over two thirds of their yearly sales at fairs, keeping the art and its directors on the road traveling around the world to stay connected to their collectors. Art fairs give great exposure to artists and allows collectors and visitors to view a multicultural swath of the art world all within one tent or expo center. The problem with art fairs is it can be a terrible way to see art, packed together, each piece struggling to make its presence known. And after the last collector leaves and the artwork is packed up, there are mountains of trash left behind. 

Beginning in 2013, we began collecting this ephemera, making paintings and installations, and then finally a small house with the interior dimensions matching a standard art fair booth. The house contains paintings made of art fair carpets and mounted on discarded crate lids. The paintings, layered with pattern and texture, are hung “fair style”, crowded and competing with each other. 

The multi channeled video encircling the house shows it in an idyllic setting, in a field by a lake being enveloped by a heavy fog, and disappearing as the fog clears. With this work we question the viability of the market, its long-term sustainability, and its relation to the cycles of boom and bust that often correspond in the housing markets.  

Ghost of a Dream is the collaborative efforts of Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was.  Their most recent exhibitions were at are Crystal Bridges Museum, The Telfair Museum and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  In Europe they are currently represented by Galerie Paris Beijing (Paris) and Christoffer Egelund (Copenhagen).  Ghost of a Dream has received support from Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, Joan Mitchell Foundation and Jerome Foundation and received the first annual Young Masters Art Prize in London, 2009. Ghost of a Dream has attended residencies in Berlin, Basel, Beijing, France, various cities around the United States, and have recently co-founded a new artist residency, ArtGarda, in northern Italy. 


Bobby Neel Adams, Memento Mori

My Memento Mori project follows the tradition of the 16th Century Dutch Vanitas painting movement, which took decaying objects as its subject matter, symbolizing the ephemeral nature of life and the certainty of death. Though none of the subjects I have photographed are endangered, they pay homage to the many species that have been pushed to the margins of existence and of their habitats by the relentless growth of human civilization. Humans build roads, chop down forests, and pollute waterways; very little consideration has been given to the animals we kill in the process.

The Memento Mori series also draws inspiration from 19th century American mourning portraiture, the tradition of making keepsake photographs of the recently deceased. Though this practice seems morbid to most now, posing and photographing dead family members was once an accepted part of the process of grieving.

To make these images I use road kill and other dead mammals, insects and birds to use as the subject matter. These specimens are composed with the local vegetation of the region to memorialize their short lives on this dying planet. 

Bobby Neel Adams was born in Black Mountain, North Carolina and presently resides in Arizona on the Mexico Border. Adams has exhibited worldwide and his photographs are in the permanent collections of: International Center for Photography, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Station Museum, diRosa Foundation, and the Norton Family Foundation to name a few. Adams has received grants and awards from the Aaron Siskind Foundation, LEF Foundation, MacDowell Art Colony and the Hermitage. His book Broken Wings was published by the Greenville Museum in 1997.



This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, New York City Council Member Stephen Levin, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Gilbert Mackay Foundation, Iorio Charitable Foundation, Select Equity Group Foundation, many individuals and Smack Mellon’s Members.

Smack Mellon’s programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and with generous support from The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of The New York Community Trust, Lambent Foundation, The Roy and Niuta Titus Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., The Robert Lehman Foundation, The Greenwich Collection Ltd, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation Inc., and Exploring The Arts.

Ghost of Dream would like to give special thanks to The Clark Hulings Fund, The Wassaic Project, Manon Slome, and Brinton Jaecks for their support in making their project possible.

Space for Smack Mellon’s programs is generously provided by the Walentas family and Two Trees Management.

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