Artist repairs concrete cracks with gold as part of new project

Within the construction defect industry, we sometimes joke that the repairs proposed by some parties represent a much more costly approach than is truly necessary to solve a particular situation. You might hear comments like “that’s the Cadillac repair” or “how can this be so expensive — what are they trying to do, gold plate the building to keep leaks out?”

So when I learned that there was an artist using gold to fill cracks as part of a new installation, I couldn’t help but take a closer look. Allison Meier, writing for Hyperallergic, highlighted the work of Rachel Sussman inspired by an ancient Japanese art form known as kintsukuroi.

kintsukuroisidewalk02Rooted in the wabi sabi tradition, by filling cracked surfaces with gold, the imperfections become a focal point and a thing of beauty in and of themselves. Here’s more:

This sense of time and its visibly healed scars, and the beauty of imperfections, helped inspire her current Sidewalk Kintsukuroi series, of which the newest edition is in Alchemy: Transformations in Gold, currently at the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa. As part of the exhibition, which considers the cultural and historical connotations of gold, Sussman repaired a fissure in the museum’s marble floor, an embedded installation now in their permanent collection…

“Cracks represent something in need of attention, and the surfaces we walk, bike, and drive over are usually overlooked until they’re in truly critical condition,” Sussamn said. “By gilding them, it’s a way to see what’s around us with fresh eyes and to celebrate perseverance.”

What’s the Point?

No matter how hard we strive for perfection, the built environment, much like the natural environment, is filled with imperfections. How we respond to those imperfections defines who we are.

“Over time, even the repairs will be destroyed,” Sussman stated. “They will be walked on and scuffed, and eventually overwritten with something else. Such is the transient nature of everything in the universe. All the more reason to value the time we have.”


Images courtesy Rachel Sussman