Mowry Baden

Claude Scratch, 1985

Mowry Baden
Claude Scratch
Dimensions and medium
Steel, aluminum, vinyl, rubber, plastic and paint, 457 × 247.5 × 271 cm
Gift of The Canada Council Art Bank
Artwork description
In Mowry Baden’s sculptural installation, Claude Scratch, the viewer climbs a spiral staircase to a platform situated beneath a galvanized sheet metal structure resembling a modified grain silo. Seated in a chair on the platform, the viewer controls the seat’s movement through attached foot pedals. While their vision is obstructed by the low-hanging structure, their perception is focused on the repetitive, albeit futile movements generated by their own physical efforts, and on the reverberating sound of the rotating chair’s mechanism. The experience may lead to feelings of frustration over the uselessness of a “machine” that expends energy without producing any visible or appreciable results. Like other works by Baden from this same period, such as Going Against the Grain, viewer interaction completes the piece’s metaphorical reference to the inefficiency of one aspect of the agricultural industry, in this case, meat production. The title of the piece refers to the chicken scratch feed used in raising poultry.

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