20 May 2007
Anglewood Farm has been in the hands of the Englum family for seven generations. Located in Paris, Illinois, its recent history sounds all too familiar: the barn obsolete, the corn cradle fading, the land leased to other farmers. That the farm still enjoys a certain compromised existence distinguishes it from the legions of Midwestern family farms that have been plowed over in the name of agribusiness over the last few decades. Artists Christine Rabenold and Jessica Bader worked together to craft an installation commemorating the farm’s history—they used gleaming white porcelain to represent many of the farm’s common but anachronistic implements and products: a hay bale, buckets of pears, apples and corn, horseshoes, a rack of logs, and various farm tools. The seeming fragility of ceramic makes it a curious but poignant choice of material for a memorial, especially one that commemorates a place and a way of life that are almost but not yet entirely gone. Memorials contain an inherent sadness, markers as they are of the dead and departed and otherwise forgotten. Normally built of stone and bronze, materials that promise to last forever, they might more honestly be built of ceramic, as is Rabenold and Bader’s—colorless, prone to chipping and cracking, and always ghostly.