At the dawn of the space age, when the superpowers were vying for celestial one-upmanship, we were told that the satellites and rockets then being launched into orbit would someday fall back to Earth as heat-blasted fragments called “space junk.” I always imagined Robert Hudson out in the hinterlands collecting this stuff. He does no such thing, but it’s easy to imagine him doing so because so much of what appears in his sculptures points to that possibility. They’re built of machine parts, plumbing fixtures, farm implements, garden tools, pottery shards and other stuff culled from secondhand shops and flea markets, along with metal objects that Hudson fabricates himself. The resulting assemblages suggest an explosion in a junkyard, choreographed by Duchamp, Picasso and Tinguely.
welded into place. Metal objects and ragged ceramic shapes — some carrying geometric patterns painted in bold primary colors — appear perched in or on supports, suggesting both cubist painting and Dada-inspired kinetic sculpture. That they can’t be activated with the flip of a switch yields distinct benefits, the biggest being a heightened level of audience engagement. To inventory the contents — and to pursue narratives that pretend to exist but don’t – you must circumnavigate each sculpture. That, in turn, yields radically different views depending on where you stand. It also leaves the interpretive possibilities deliciously open-ended, owing to the fact that the associations called by up familiar objects tend to evaporate once they’re deployed abstractly.
Float which has, as its centerpiece, a pair of blacksmith’s tongs attached to a pair of monkey wrenches, along with sprockets and other circular shapes? Or Scissors, which features an tintype photograph of a woman topped by two rakes and surrounded by metal spheres hung at odd angles? It’s a votive — of a sort — but beyond that what can be made of it?