As long as we have dreamed we have imagined flight, it’s a myth as old as Icarus, and the visual arts, as the primary expression of our visionary impulses has long held a particular fascination for the flying- as far back as Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings of airplane designs in the late 15th Century. The Boneyard Project is not simply a unique opportunity to give major contemporary artists an amazing canvas of being able to make art out of a plane, it is a chance for us all to examine our own cultural relationship to airplanes and to the archetypal ideal of traveling through the skies. The idea of using an airplane as a vehicle for self-expression is not entirely new. With the first known “nose art”- paintings done on the front of military planes- in 1913, a kind of folk art medium rapidly developed in Europe and the United States over the First and Second World Wars that reflected popular iconography with a kind of visual boldness akin to similar vernacular forms of their day like cartoons, pin-ups and tattoos. Private jets such as those used by rock bands continued the tradition of festooning these flying chariots with art, and certainly the most famous example of an artist putting his work on a plane is when Braniff Airlines commissioned Alexander Calder to paint their fleet of 727s in 1975 to commemorate the Bicentennial.
Beginning with a series executed by some of today’s most prominent graffiti artists, drawing on a medium that gained notoriety as a pictorial elaboration and adornment of subways and trains, with plans to include a broad variety of artists from different fields of practice, The Boneyard Project will seek to re-envision our evolving relationship with flying through populist and fine art perspectives, allowing prominent figures from the fine art world, installation and conceptual art disciplines as well as revered figures of youth culture, to each remind us of that unique romance we have had with planes in our lifetimes. With rising fears, prohibitive costs, and more hassles than seem even slightly reasonable, the great joy of getting on a plane to arrive someplace entirely new and exotic has lost much of its appeal in recent years. Yet to this day this amazing possibility is what flying still represents for us. It is a history and a future we should trust great artists to explore for us. And in our own culture where obsolescence is part of the plan and disposability is a bad habit of commerce we are having a very hard time shaking, the very idea that in the desert there is this wonderful graveyard of disused planes waiting for some new breath of life begs that we ask a generation of creators and thinkers to recycle and re-imagine these former marvels of engineering to take us some place we have indeed never dreamed of before.
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