Lang Ea, KA BOOM!, 2016/2022
600+ red, acrylic pom poms, 3000m diameter.
Looking up into the overstory, visitors might easily mistake Lang Ea’s KA BOOM! for a late-blooming pōhutukawa. Like the tree’s flowers, the six hundred acrylic pom-poms comprising the work are of a vibrant red colour that stands out among the foliage. Yet KA BOOM! is blemish as opposed to a blossoming.
While the flowering of the pōhutukawa is cause for celebration, here the red signals a dark and complex history of global violence. By referencing comic book illustrations and language and using everyday craft materials, Ea invites a playful engagement with her work but ultimately forestalls it and urges viewers toward deeper reflection on what it is to live in the face and wake of war.
The work’s stillness, poised within the tree branches as if caught in a spider’s web, is refreshing as we see global powers rushing headlong into war at enormous psychological, spiritual, and cultural costs. Ea offers an artistic armistice; hushing the clamours of conflict, she creates a moment of fraught beauty that renders those costs so apparent and so essential to protect.