Phoebe Washburn: Regulated Fool's Milk Meadow

Browse By



Due to the redesign of, past exhibitions prior to 2008 are archived externally; visiting these pages will open a new window.
Phoebe Washburn, Regulated Fool's Milk Meadow, 2007

Regulated Fool's Milk Meadow, 2007. Wood, motorized conveyor system, Plexiglas, soil, seed, water, pumping systems, grow lights, fluorescent lights, electric fans, ladder, acrylic fish tanks, closed circuit television system, plastic sheeting, wire mesh, gardening tools, pencils, stickers, tape, string, plastic ties, clipboards, paper, painted gravel, sand, golf balls and plants, overall dimensions variable. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Partial gift, Deutsche Bank AG. Commissioned by Deutsche Bank AG in consultation with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin 2007.54. © 2007 Phoebe Washburn. Photo: Matthias Schormann

Phoebe Washburn: Regulated Fool's Milk Meadow

July 14–October 14, 2007

Phoebe Washburn's installations explore generative systems based on absurd patterns of production. She typically combines countless numbers of cardboard boxes or pieces of scrap wood that she skims off the refuse of consumers and commerce, combing dumpsters and loading docks for basic matter. Her materials are discarded relics of daily routines, fatefully and incidentally discovered and transported to the studio where they are ordered and repurposed, imbuing with value what was once deemed worthless. Featuring already used, already worn, already consumed objects, which carry evidence of their own histories, she stacks, binds, and nails together her discoveries into installations that tell the story of their own making, consolidating by-products of their creation, such as sawdust and packing materials, into the final project.

For its installation at Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Washburn conceived of Regulated Fool's Milk Meadow as a self-contained "factory" that incorporated its own product—grass for the project's sod roof—into the installation over the course of the exhibition. For the first time, the artist integrated mechanics into her work, using a conveyor belt loop to shuttle small plots of soil through different stations for light and water, which nourished the growth of grass. These "plots" were periodically tended by a "gardener" who planted the seed, allowed it to germinate in a greenhouse before shifting the organic matter to the factory where it matured, and finally placed the output on the roof of the structure where it eventually atrophied and withered, removed from the sustaining system of water and light, thus exhibiting the full cycle of growth and decay.

Washburn largely relies on improvisational and amateurish construction techniques. Here, the spontaneity of her architecture resonates with the natural development of the growing sod roof as well as its organic decline and decay. This practice stands in contrast with the characteristic efficiency intrinsic to the factory system. But Washburn often mines such apparently ridiculous juxtapositions as loci of creativity.

Guggenheim Museum

Plan Your Visit

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
(at 89th Street)
New York, NY 10128-0173
Purchase tickets

Hours & Ticketing

See Plan Your Visit for more information on ticketing, including holiday hours.

Adults $25
Students and Seniors (65 years +) with valid ID $18
Children under 12 Free
Members Free


Multimedia Guides

Multimedia guides are free with admission.

Further information:
Directions to the museum
Group sales

Franz Marc, Stables (Stallungen), 1913

Shop Online

Browse the Guggenheim
for gifts.