On the Spot: Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro

Claire Healy, left, and Sean Cordeiro, right, the creators of "Are We There Yet?"

Australian artists Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro are making their U.S. debut at the Corcoran Gallery of Art with the installation show “Are We There Yet?” The exhibition’s focal point is a shuttle-like area featuring a model of a slumped-over astronaut surrounded by junk food. The snacks — all of which are real and were bought by the artists at a suburban Costco — include Coke and cheese balls, and represent the number of calories the typical American would consume on a journey to Mars and back (3,800 calories per day for a total of 1,976,000). In a second space hang pieces from the series “Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going, Why,” which is inspired by space exploration — and made entirely of Legos.

What inspired this work?
Cordeiro: We were in D.C. for five days, and that allowed us a good time to see the Smithsonian, to see Air and Space. I think in a sense it is a site-specific work.

Specific to D.C. or to the U.S.?
Cordeiro:
Well, I think it was inspired by visiting Washington, but our work often works on universal experiences.
Healy: You don’t have to be American to understand the work.

You bought all the materials at Costco. Did you pick anything up just because it was a great deal?
Healy: We originally went because we were on this hunt for massive amounts of drawing pens.
Cordeiro: All of our work deals with the use of the everyday. Our work does involve consumer culture. I guess going to a place like Costco is kind of an obvious choice.

In using Legos, did you ever step on one of them while barefoot?
Cordeiro and Healy: [simultaneously] YES.
Cordeiro: I remember as a kid falling asleep with Legos in my bed and rolling over on them. That was a painful sensation.
Healy: A lot of them end up in the vacuum, too.

Corcoran Gallery of Art, 510 17th St. NW; through March 11, $10; 202-639-1700. (Farragut West)
Kristen Page-Kirby covers film for The Washington Post Express.
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Rudi Greenberg | January 10, 2012