James Van Arsdale is a designer and artist living and working in Santa Barbara, CA.
Produced in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum (SBCAF) exhibition Bloom Projects Exchange Series, James Van Arsdale: (Safe Inside My) Green Zone, July 14 - August 26, 2007. Each work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by James Van Arsdale. Works also come with a brochure produced in conjunction with the exhibition, detailing the exhibition and providing information about the piece itself.
James Van Arsdale’s installation drew on the iconography of Cold War Era board games to examine the legitimacy of play in its many forms—from the virtual to various instances of the real. The experience of the adult view is exploited by the paradoxical nature of the exploding sandbags and grenade popsicles.
Scouting games, toy army soldiers, war movies, and Westerns—subjects of interest for Van Arsdale—relay a sense of boyish nostalgia with a particularly sinister undertone. He uses the themes of games and war as devices to examine the nature of relationships in society. What is learned when engaging with a game or toy? What are the consequences of our actions? What tactics or sets of rules exist within the rules of play, and how do we interpret childhood games into adulthood?
Van Arsdale’s installation, (Safe Inside My) Green Zone, comprised a fictional war room setting referring to a real Green Zone (a military designation referring to a fortified compound, maintained by heavy firepower and meant to be a site of safety). His Green Zone however allows only the illusion of safety: Exploding Sandbags, designed to protect against explosions, are themselves agents of destruction. Ominous and acrid Gas Clouds hover over the area poisoning all that inhabits it. Cast plastic Bunkers inhabit the zone, reminiscent of a space age looking command center, an old world place of worship, or a giant Jolly Rancher machine gun nest. His Grenade Popsicles too suggest Lifesaver candies—the brightly colored markers of sweetness and childhood—yet his are deadly.
Colors: Cherry, Lemon, Orange, & Sour Apple Green
Cast plastic, wood; 6 x 3 x 1 in. HWL
Commissioned by SBCAF, 2007
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