Book Review: "The Life of Small Things" by Adam Ekberg
Image above: ©Adam Ekberg, Book Cover, 'A Sparkler on a Frozen Lake,' 2006 / Courtesy of Waltz Books
The Life of Small Things (Waltz Books) is artist Adam Ekberg’s first monograph. It features small, spontaneous delights found in mundane spaces of the quotidian – corn fields, forests, an empty house. Having begun this series in response to a time spent as a hospice aide, Ekberg immerses his work in the ordinary while devising moments of witty antics that emerge in unexpected places. The usual becomes exciting. The Life of Small Things is a record of delightful imaginings; the playful escapades of an artist.
Image above: ©Adam Ekberg, 'A Room Filled with Bic Lighters and Cocktail Umbrellas' / Courtesy of Waltz Books
The content of these images range from high-constructions to supposedly natural occurrences. Objects are situated in the least sensible places: cocktail umbrellas are wedged into small lighters, keeping them aflame while they stand arranged on a wood floor; a vacuum stands with its on-light illuminated on a barren plane of ice – its extension cord winds its way off of the frame. Ekberg remarks on the preparations that go into images as, Transferring a Gallon of Milk, “It’s an elaborate trial-and-error to make some small thing occur… Some [images] take every second of the day and for days on end, like Transferring…”
Image above:©Adam Ekberg, 'Transferring a Gallon of Milk from One Container to Another,' 2014 / Courtesy of Waltz Books
The believably natural occurrences that Ekberg documents realize details that could be stumbled across on any day – headlights on a country road illuminate a small speed sign, announcing an unassuming 25 mph; the splash of something going ‘plop’ in the ocean; a pin point of light radiating out from trees.
Image Above: ©Adam Ekberg, 'Eclipse,' 2012 / Courtesy of Waltz Books
Ekberg creates and captures the spirit of the inanimate. ‘Small things’ look as if they truly have a life. We ask, how did that pineapple come to be in the sky? It is playful; the images ‘wink’ at you, and at times cross over into a world of magical realism. In the essay “Beauty, Truth and the Laws of Physics on the Edge of a Cornfield,” Darius Himes states, “These simple objects build tension over the course of the book… Ekberg lets that sense of purposeless play resurface, something that Jung says is vital for adults throughout their lives.”
‘The Life of Small Things’ was published in November 2015 and is available for purchase with Waltz Books.