Elise Engler at Cynthia Broan

Elise Engler Rapture 2005 pencil, colored pencil, gouache, watercolor on paper 22" x 30" [installation view]


It's been a good five-week run, but "Tax-onomies", Elise Engler's show at Cynthia Broan closes tomorrow. Unfortunately however the actual "rapture" of our sophisticated fighting machines and and somewhat less sophisticated wars will continue.

Engler's inspiration for the title of this show of beautiful, painstakingly-crafted drawings is an accounting of the materials the government purchases with our tax dollars, but there is much more than hard weaponry in her inventories. From the press release:

Larger works in progress are symbolic depictions, with names and ages, of each of the over 2500 Iraq War coalition casualties and over 13,000 Iraqi civilian casualties, a small fraction of the unknown actual number.
The image at the top is one of a number of more recent drawings:
The exhibition also includes a new series of works on paper that portray newspaper clippings, internet flyers and other sources of information, with related drawn and painted elements. Articles from New York Times are meticulously recreated in pencil and gouache, the surrounding painting portraying a more editorial, depiction of stories such as funding for jet fighters, Rudy Giuliani dancing in drag, NYC Emergency Preparedness advice, and arrests made around Times Square during the Republican Convention.
The truly obscene caption below the pencilled reproduction of a NYTimes photograph reads: "The Raptor, the most expensive fighter jet in history at $259 million per plane, may be scaled down as the Pentagon tries to offset Iraq war costs."

[The price of the [F-22] Raptor has since gone up. At the moment the estimates are closer to $350 million per plane. Somewhere I just saw a reference to the Air Force asking for 339 of them. As they say, pretty soon we'll be talking about real money.]