Saley Nong’s NOT FOR SALE, Thee EYE
Promotional for NOT FOR SALE
September 19, 2012
Saley Nong is sort of the shit in Des Moines’ upper crust event-planning/fundraising circle, so her opening at Thee Eye on September’s First Friday was predictably populated. Lots of very nicely dressed people ate crazy-delicious finger foods at finely dressed tables set up within a perimeter of silver candelabras on 4th Street.
I heard a rumor at some point that Nong was to arrive by helicopter. I couldn’t definitively say she didn’t, because I was in Fluxx talking to B. Gardner at the appointed time. When I walked around the corner to check out the haps once Thee Eye opened its doors, I had to stand in line - something I have never had happen to me at an opening in Des Moines!
So much of Saley’s show was about food, now that I’m back home to think bout it. Guests crowded around her line of luxury finger foods for an hour, which they certainly discussed…
“Is this sushi? No! The ‘salmon’ is watermelon!”
“That is too much Sum Tom for one girl!”
“YOU NEED TO EAT ONE OF THESE!”
When we got inside, I was immediately overcome with a want to eat the three sugar and lard sculptures on the wall.
“Desire”, sugar, lard & chick wire
I moved on. The space of Thee Eye wasn’t crowded, and was dressed similarly to previous shows: one installation in the center of the room, a few larger sculptures on each wall. What was unusual: the underlying current of food and luxury. Both fitting topics, considering Saley Nong’s “day job” as an event decorator/table dresser/extravaganza coordinator.
The installation at the focal point of the room was Dinner for Turds; an immaculately-set table featuring roses attractively laid over charcoal briquets surrounding large candelabras, and setting the mood for a meal laid out at each end of the table: Two cow pies on silver platters, each dressed with lemons and oranges.
“Dinner for Turds”, fresh Cow Turds from Ogden, Iowa, Place Setting by Divine Flowers, Charcoal from hardware store, Roses from Ecuador.
What did I see here? An interesting juxtaposition of luxury and squalidness, a waste of food and fuel with an ambiguous message.
Installation shot from NOT FOR SALE
The wall behind the table bore an installation of human-hair cotton candy. It was beautifully sculpted, each element in proportion to the others. I didn’t see anyone react with disgust…or really react at all. But I thought it was a lovely installation, aesthetically.
“Cotton candy hair”, human hair
Saley’s other “hair” installation — this one not made of human hair at all, but seaweed — ignited in me another OH YUM response. Conscious or not, Saley Nong is clearly ruled by food and family, two often-inseparable topics.