“And the second fact of his humanity began.”
— Anne Carson, “TV Men: Lazarus” in Men in the Off Hours, 2000, 93.
What, over time, will remain, in what form and under what conditions? It is fair to say that Stephen Andrews’ aesthetic trajectory over the course of two decades and more was set in motion and guided by these questions, or versions thereof. His inquiries have yielded a body of work that prompts renewed reflection on a process that humankind has perhaps come to take for granted: the biodegradation that is the eventual fate of things cultural as well as natural. The complex interplay of image, medium and material that characterizes Andrews’ practice asks the viewer to gauge the consequences of biodegradability both for the semantic content of the work and for its material support. And if all art arguably makes a similar demand, the stakes are perhaps raised when, as in Andrews’ oeuvre, the content comprises a range of concerns (among them love, fear, dependency, death, mourning, survival) for which the acronyms HIV/AIDS may serve as shorthand, and when the material support (including beeswax, latex, parchment, animal tissue) is obviously, even deliberately, vulnerable to the effects of time.