Violence, deconstructed

Bombed Mosque, 2010

I think that once you’ve seen one of Al Farrow’s mosaic sculptures you’ll never quite forget it. That was why on my visit to the deYoung Museum in San Francisco last August I suddenly found myself experiencing a strange feeling of deja vu; it took me a few minutes to realize why. His intricate pieces are both jarring and thought-provoking, and my first exposure had been back in September 2019, when I discovered his Bombed Mosque in Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum. According to the museum card, more than 50,000 bullets and shell cartridges went into the construction of this piece, which weighs 780 pounds.

Three years later, I came across another of his arresting sculptures in San Francisco: The Spine and Tooth of Santo Guerro (2007). Materials used in this piece include guns, bullets, shot, steel, glass, tooth, bone, and fifteenth-century fabric.

Farrow’s cathedral is transformed into a memorial reliquary or shrine by the inclusion of a human spine in the nave and a human tooth — both belonging to the fictitious Santo Guerro (Saint War) — over the transept door. The spine, mounted for display, recalls that many European cathedrals were built with funds derived from the viewing of religous relics — deYoung information card

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