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Canned Joy


 A Playground for cans and humans


An installation that asks:

Can joy be canned?  Can cans bring joy? Can trash be beautiful?


JOY: the bubbling up of uncontrolled happiness, the cause of which can be pedestrian, unexpected or profound.

CANNED: That which has been put in a can for consumption. Be it laughter, soda or beer.  Mass sale of said product being its primary goal.


Something canned will keep for a very long time...

A canned product is usually not though of very highly...

You might for example be thinking that this installation should be canned...

Canned Joy



The beauty with JOY  is that it can be found in the small and trivial as well as the monumental and awe-inspiring.  CANNED JOY is about the former.  About my unexpected encounter with playful dancing cans. I was standing on a rooftop in Anacostia looking across the river, when some soda and beer cans rattled by my feet. My first thought was not kind. Trash I thought.  People are pigs. But the cans were zooming around with such gusto, coming and going, running and jumping, separating and reuniting, I felt like I was watching children at recess.  I was transfixed, and maybe you will to.  I invite you to sit down and watch or to partake in the game. 


Trash, pollution, all bad things of course, but sometimes even trash can be beautiful. We have all seen the dancing plastic bag flitting about like a butterfly, the bottle bobbing up and down like some mysterious submarine on the water's edge. Not that I am advocating pollution, but sometimes even mundane, ordinary objects can be beautiful and seem to acquire a soul through motion. In this case soda-cans pushed by the wind take on the characteristics of children at play.


Small things, great joys. Will you roll with me as I include you in my circle of happiness?  Look around and you will see things that have brought me unexpected joy.  The long, long shadow stretching down the hill on my morning walk, that perfect magnolia that will last but a few hours, that yummy cookie that is just waiting to rattle my world, that perfect moon rise, that funny duck face, that awesome reflection in the surface of the pool, that red leaf that fell on my turquoise paisley boot. I share with you the gift of blue sky, of a  kiss, a smile and unexpected invitation to a scrabble game.


installation canned joy with Liliane
AOM Frederick 201300
AOM Frederick 201301
red shoes01
Screen shot of video for Canned Joy MCA
Canned joy prep

But there is always the other side...


Beautiful as they are, the cans bring up other thoughts.  Thoughts of our utter lack of control over so many things in our lives. I find myself thinking about that sense of powerlessness that comes from feeling pushed around, feeling at the mercy of uncontrollable, unexpected forces.  (Be they oil slicks on the road, micro burst tornadoes, illness, death, sun flares or comets) Have most of us not felt like this at some point in our lives? Useless, empty like a discarded can rattling about the surface of the world.  As an artist this is an endlessly recurring question... is there a point to what I do, a reason to my existence?  Or am I just some more detritus rolling about, unrecycled?


And then comes a rainy day, and the pond is covered in a thick layer of yellow pollen, and it might make you sneeze, but it is beautiful.  And then the pond is pink with cherry blossom pedals, and they might have been washed of the tree, but they sure make a stunning sight floating on the water.  And the oil slick that totaled my car might be dangerous, but is sure is beautiful.  And yes the cans might be trash, but they sure made me smile and laugh.


Laughter can be a side effect of joy, but so can tears.  Feel free to laugh at my installation

Feel free to weep for joy.

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