Rise and Fall: Monumental Duct Tape Drawings

Exhibit Dates: 
Oct 6, 2012 - Feb 10, 2013
DuPont I Gallery


Joe Girandola visualizes the world’s greatest architectural wonders out of duct tape. Employing a quick fix material to depict now crumbling artifacts, Girandola creates a wry commentary on past and present empires. While duct tape was originally used to seal ammunition cases during World War II, Girandola first discovered it as a creative medium after using it to protect his hands while training as a stone carver in Florence and Pietrasanta. Retaining a tie to his Italian heritage and traditional fine art practice, the artist continues to interpret the act of sculpting by taping to produce chiseled-looking, monolithic forms. Girandola’s seemingly grandiose, yet kitsch portrayal of civilization simultaneously resonates as a hybrid fine art/folk aesthetic. His oversize canvasses of Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal and the Tower of Pisa, for example, show iconic symbols of culture as almost deadpan tourist snapshots that pay homage to 1960s Pop Art. 

For Girandola, such illustrious feats of engineering not only illuminate architectural history but also provide a context for evaluating the motivations of ruling powers behind a given building’s construction. India’s Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a mausolem for his 3rd wife and true love, Mumtaz Mahal. Pouring all of India’s money into enshrining her memory, the Emperor made an opulent trophy while underlying economic issues plagued the country. Similarly, Girandola’s representation of a Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain, reflects the reach and influence of one of the most powerful, yet barbaric civilizations in history. The Roman Colosseum and other works throughout the exhibition present the viewer with an ephemeral image of art and artifact. Rendered in America’s one-size-fits-all solution, each of Girandola’s duct tape treasures poses a timely question surrounding the cost of cultural capital. 



-Maiza Hixson
Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art