Carlos D. Szembek
Works
Carlos D. Szembek Works 1400 silk-screened paper bags, wooden ramp, 7 tons of sugar, audio
Orbis Saccharum — Orbis Sanguis: A Life’s Worth
2001
1400 silk-screened paper bags, wooden ramp, 7 tons of sugar, audio
Variable

A four-chamber installation focusing on the traumas induced by the colonial sugar trade. The entrance chamber is a transitional space, meant to convey a wharf with sacks of sugar awaiting shipment. Just barely perceptible is the sound of water sloshing against a pier. The installation was a collaboration with musician Mark Bajuk who developed the sonic components for each chamber.
Carlos D. Szembek Works 1400 silk-screened paper bags, wooden ramp, 7 tons of sugar, audio
Orbis Saccharum — Orbis Sanguis: A Life’s Worth
2001
1400 silk-screened paper bags, wooden ramp, 7 tons of sugar, audio
Variable

The 1400 hand-printed stacked bags contain the mass equivalent of 7 tons—the average consumption of sugar by an average American in their lifetime.

Carlos D. Szembek Works 1400 silk-screened paper bags
Orbis Saccharum — Orbis Sanguis: A Life’s Worth
2001
1400 silk-screened paper bags
Variable

Detail of printed sugar bags.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Sugarcane, molasses, heating lamps, chalk, audio
Orbis Saccharum — Orbis Sanguis: The Sweatbox
2001
Sugarcane, molasses, heating lamps, chalk, audio
Variable

In Chamber Three, a sweatbox constructed of sugarcane dominates the dark chamber. On the black walls, chalk-marks tick off time…but by whom? The captor? Inside the sweatbox, the cloying smell of heated molasses permeates the room. The sound of labored breathing emerges from the bamboo cage.

Carlos D. Szembek Works Powdered sugar, window, slide projection, audio
Orbis Saccharum — Orbis Sanguis: The Sweet Inside Out
2001
Powdered sugar, window, slide projection, audio
Variable

In a perfectly white room, powered sugar covering the floor, an amplified fluorescent hum fills the second chamber. Through the window a skewed view of an idyllic plantation scene of slaves cutting sugarcane is projected in the dark outside.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Multi-media installation
Maintaining the Living and the Dead (for those who have been left behind)
1995-96
Multi-media installation
Variable

This installation is comprised of three different sections that function as chapters do in a book. The audience enters the dimly lit space and encounters two farm wagons: The Maintaining Wagon and The Mourning Wagon. Occupying the back two-fifths of the gallery were the decimated remnants of a wheat field grown from Fall through mid-Summer. By the time of the exhibit the wheat field had grown past its golden stage and had begun to collapse. The soil and dying wheat were transferred into the gallery. Viewers were invited to enter the field. Embedded in the soil two monitors played text loops, one on the theme of the responsibility of survival, the other a medical text on the washing of a bed-ridden body.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Wood, steel stock-tank, etched metal watering cans, water, embroidered towels, leather, scythe, 2-week old wheat seedlings, grow lights and gold leaf
Maintaining the Living and the Dead (for those who have been left behind)
1995-96
Wood, steel stock-tank, etched metal watering cans, water, embroidered towels, leather, scythe, 2-week old wheat seedlings, grow lights and gold leaf
Variable

The Maintaining Wagon (top) is a polished steel wagon containing three object groupings: two watering cans (etched with the texts: How can I help you? How can I take care of you?); a stock-tank filled with water (on the bottom is etched for you, my love; and two towels (embroidered with: Whatever you need, Whatever you want). The Mourning Wagon (bottom) is rusted and scarred; it’s fencing comprised of old rotted wood. On the bed of this wagon were three-week-old wheat seedlings leaning toward two grow lights. The seedlings had grown around three harvesting tools: a scythe, a rake and a pitchfork. The tools were bound down to the bed with four belts with gilded text that read: out of indifference, out of ignorance, out of shame, out of fear.

Carlos D. Szembek Works Multi-media Installation
Maintaining the Living and the Dead (for those who have been left behind)
1995-96
Multi-media Installation
Variable

View from within the field.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Wood, loaf of bread, fabric, lithography
Contagion Companion
1995
Wood, loaf of bread, fabric, lithography
16' x 22' x 9'

A loaf of bread sits invitingly on a table, with two chairs pulled up, yet the exchange is thwarted: mosquito netting, meant as protection hinders the act of breaking bread with another. Contagion, from the Latin: con-,’with’ and tangere, ‘to touch’…Companion, from the Latin: con-, ‘with’ and panis,’bread’—person with whom one breaks bread with.

Carlos D. Szembek Works 5-color hand-printed lithographed wallpaper
Contagion Companion
1995
5-color hand-printed lithographed wallpaper
shown: 4' x 6'

The HIV virus as floral motif.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Bread, suitcases, fishing net and hooks
Fixed and Displaced
1997
Bread, suitcases, fishing net and hooks
Variable

A self-portrait in transition.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Bread, suitcases, fishing net and hooks
Fixed and Displaced
1997
Bread, suitcases, fishing net and hooks
Variable

Detail

Carlos D. Szembek Works Bread, wrestling singlets, rope, winches, vinyl, foam padding
Bottom-Top
1997
Bread, wrestling singlets, rope, winches, vinyl, foam padding
Variable

This piece addresses the construction of sexuality. The piece situates itself in a shallow hallway in which the viewer is forced into the central position. On one side is a vertically suspended wrestling mat inscribed with a teasing text: c’mon boy, I know you can make a liar outta me…that’s right shove it down my fuckin’ throat….The wrestling singlets are embroidered with phrases of contacting body parts. Two winches are set into this wrestling mat implying a competition. The viewer is invited to crank these winches slowly raising or lowering the wrestling singlet on the opposite site. However due to the initial configuration of the singlets, neither the red nor yellow teams are ever wholly on top—thus no winner ever emerges.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Rope, winches, vinyl, foam padding
Bottom-Top
1997
Rope, winches, vinyl, foam padding
Variable

Detail of wrestling pad.

Carlos D. Szembek Works Bread, wrestling singlets, rope, vinyl, foam padding
Bottom-Top
1997
Bread, wrestling singlets, rope, vinyl, foam padding
Variable

Detail of singlets.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Ash oven, metal, desiccated loaf of bread, ash
Cordon Sanitaire
1996
Ash oven, metal, desiccated loaf of bread, ash
Variable

The quarantine line. This piece was the culmination of a year-long performance of baking a daily loaf of bread. The first loaf was mummified and shown with the ash oven. The other loaves were fired in a ceramic kiln, their ashes packed into the trailing wagon.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Resin, cast iron, light, dirt, grass and poppies
Sweetness and Light
1999
Resin, cast iron, light, dirt, grass and poppies
3' x 3' x 4'

A more personal piece, a cast shellac and polymer bee skep was placed on top of a mound of poppies. Inscribed on the cast iron base is the text of a memory of me as a child yelling at a mountain to hear my own echo.

Carlos D. Szembek Works Maple tree section, bungee cord, metal, concrete
sub(e)merge: how to wage battle when no one knows there is a war
1997
Maple tree section, bungee cord, metal, concrete
5' x '12' x 15'

For this public art commission for the Three Rivers Arts Festival, I sought to wage a futile war at the decommissioned WWII submarine USS Requin docked at the Carnegie Science Center. My weapon of choice: a 15-foot high slingshot and a stale loaf of bread. Based on a 1950’s Steamboat Annie tale in which the protagonist (Annie) defends her ship by hurling stale biscuits at a Japanese submarine that had infiltrated American waters. The slingshot was rigged by professional bungee-jumpers. During test-shots the forklift was used to pull back the bungee hurling test loaves 400+ feet.
11a-b.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Clay bread oven, metal, wood, closed-cell foam
sub(e)merge: how to wage battle when no one knows there is a war
1997
Clay bread oven, metal, wood, closed-cell foam
4' x 6' x 3'

Floating brick oven used to make the bread “cannonballs.”

Carlos D. Szembek Works 1 ton of bread dough, fabric
Ton of Proof
1996
1 ton of bread dough, fabric
Variable

Part of an exhibit at the San Francisco Exploratorium, this ‘yeast performance’ of 2000 lbs of dough took approximately 14 hours to complete. The dough was contained in open-ended fabric casings which mimicked the shape of budding yeast cells.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Loaves of bread, metal, ink, video projection
Oubliette
1995
Loaves of bread, metal, ink, video projection
3' x 4' x 16'

Twisting the Edgar Allan Poe story ”The Cask of Amontillado” into a lover’s tryst gone wrong, this site-specific piece is comprised of a 16-foot high wall of bread loaves each imprinted with ‘passionate’ text (detail). The loaves themselves form a chamber, a secret dungeon. At its base a video projection endlessly loops two lovers about to kiss.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Loaves of bread, metal, ink, video projection
Oubliette
1995
Loaves of bread, metal, ink, video projection
Projected image: 20" x 24"

Detail of the lovers' kiss projected on the floor in the opening at the base of the wall of bread.

Carlos D. Szembek Works Bread, leather, steel
Gibbet
1994
Bread, leather, steel
3' x 3' x 5.5'

The weight of my body in dough, baked in constraints, hung for display.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Bread, leather, steel
Gibbet
1994
Bread, leather, steel
3' x 3' x 5.5'

Alternate view.

Carlos D. Szembek Works Bread, wood
Trencher
1994
Bread, wood
3' x 3' x 3'

Homage to my father—a surreal gesture of furniture becoming food.
Carlos D. Szembek Works Wood and 100 loaves of bread
Gift Cycle
1993
Wood and 100 loaves of bread
4' x 7' x 3'

As part of the Adopting Aliquippa Art Festival, a local bakery was asked if they would donate 100 loaves on the day of festival. In each of the bags was placed a card that simply read "Give Thanks"...GIFT: from the Scandinavian: ghabh — 'to give and to receive'
Carlos D. Szembek Works Loaves
Gift Cycle
1993
Loaves

Detail of gift cards

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