Gabriel Orozco’s Asterisms at the Guggenheim

It may look like a staging area for the production of Stuart Haygarth chandeliers or Massimiliano Adami cabinets, or possibly an excerpt from the website Things Organized Neatly. But the comely technicolor garbage pile pictured above is actually a piece by the Mexican art-star Gabriel Orozco, who’s known for his use of humble materials and found objects, and it’s moving into New York’s Guggenheim museum as of this Friday. Asterisms is a process-oriented installation — our favorite kind! — featuring thousands of objects Orozco collected from two separate sites: a sports field near his New York home and a wildlife reserve on the coast of Baja California Sur, the latter of which happens to enjoy a constant flow of industrial backwash from across the Pacific that every so often yields bits of aesthetically pleasing detritus. The show — pictured here during its initial installation at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin — is technically a union of two separate works, each devoted to one the aforementioned locales. Sandstars, to the back of the photo above, is a sculptural taxonomy of Orozco’s Mexican beach finds: nearly 1,200 glass bottles, lightbulbs, buoys, tools, stones, and oars sorted by color, shape, and material.The artist first realized the wildlife reserve’s potential as a goldmine for these objects when he was there digging in the sand for the elements of his 2006 sculpture Mobile Matrix, essentially a giant whale skeleton that now hangs permanently in Mexico’s José Vasconcelos Library. (We encourage you to read all about the making of that crazy piece right here.)The images flanking the installation are studio photographs of the same coastal objects, but in different configurations.A closeup of two of the eroded buoys in Sandstar.Astroturf Constellation, whose elements were harvested from the playing field occupying New York’s Pier 40, functions similarly to Sandstar but at the comparably diminutive scale of coins, ripped-off sneaker logos, soccer ball bits, feathers, candy wrappers, chewing gum wads, and tiny tangles of thread. Orozco combed the field’s Astroturf for these weird souvenirs of athleticism, breaking the world of sport down to its smallest, most idiosyncratic elements and then challenging your eyes to put them back together again, kind of like that famous Volkswagen parts ad or a Todd McLellan photograph.

The show’s curators say the two works invoke “several of the artist’s recurring motifs, including the traces of erosion” and “the ever-present tension between nature and culture.” But for us, it’s all about how Orozco captures “poetic encounters with mundane materials,” something any collector or design fan who’s ever inexplicably fallen in love with an everyday object will understand in a heartbeat.

Asterisms is on view November 9 through January 13 at the Guggenheim museum in New York.