Dan Flavin (1933 – 1996) began to use commercially available fluorescent light tubes in 1963. This work marries color and light, bringing them into three dimensions. In dialogue withe surrounding space, the vertical and horizontal tubes both illuminate and obscure the corner — a location not typically used for displaying art. Though the emitted light transcends its physical encasement and transforms the surrounding space, Flavin avoided characterizing his work as sublime and instead considered his light installation as “situations” or proposals. “One might not think of light as a matter of fact, but I do,” he stated. “And it is…as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find.”
Ivan Navarro uses electric light as his primary medium, appropriate the austere visual language of Minimalism and imbuing it with political resonance. For Homeless Lamp, the Juice Sucker (2004–05), he built a grocery cart out of fluorescent tubes and, with it, wandered to the gallery-lined streets of Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The luminous sculpture evokes the work of Dan Flavin while also referencing an object commonly repurposed by homeless people for storage and transportation.
Scored to the Mexican revolutionary song “Juan Sin Tierra” (John the Landless), the accompanying documentary video follows Navarro and a friend as they search for public electricity with which to eliminate the sculpture. presenting the artist as a transient figure, Navarro offers a personal allegory for his early attempts to gain access to the New York art world as well as the difficulties faced by migrants in establishing connections with the place to which they have relocated.
Photographed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City during the Storylines exhibit in 2015.