Environmental Reclamation Artist Angelo Ciotti
Installation Art
Carnegie Installation
Carnegie Installation

Pittsburgh, PA 1984

Of all the works in this exhibition, The Chair relates most specifically to Western Pennsylvania. Both in its forms and its materials, it developed from the artist's efforts to reclaim the spoiled landscapes of abandoned strip mines in the region, by turning them into environmental sculptures. The large chunks of boney, or slag, that litter one end of the gallery may be seen as a specific reference to the desolate landscapes Ciotti has worked to transform. The mound of turf at the other end could be a token of the appearance of the abandoned mines after the artist's plans for reclamation are realized. The two narrow forms in between, however, derive almost purely from the world of art - specifically from Michael Heizer's excavation piece of 1972 in the Utah desert, entitled “Double Negative."

The opposed forms are similar, and naturally limited in scale by the exhibition space. Their contents, however, coal in one and boney in the other, take on historical and human connotations quite different from any of the earthworks of the 1970s.

In the Pittsburgh region today, the piles of coal and the slag that Ciotti’s Chair incorporates necessarily have complex and even poignant associations. On the one hand, they recall the materials consumed and produced by the mills of the region; but, on the other, they necessarily bring to mind the unfortunate recent fate of so much of the industry. John Caldwell, Curator, Carnegie Museum of Art.