International Sculpture Center

   
December 2013
Vol. 32 No 10

A publication of the
International Sculpture Center
Venice- 55th Venice Biennale
by Christine Temin
The 55th Venice Biennale was less about art world trends and more about real world issues. There was Cuban art about escape, Angolan art about the remnants of an impoverished society, Chinese art about the invasion of privacy at airports, and Hungarian art about bombs that, in both world wars, were fired but didn’t explode. This time, the Biennale exhibited a social conscience and a sense of nervousness. The overall title, “Il Palazzo Enciclopedico” (The Encyclopedic Palace) could, of course, cover anything at all. Curator Massimiliano Gioni was inspired by the American immigrant folk artist Marino Auriti, who, in the 1950s, designed an imaginary 136-story museum intended to house all of human knowledge, to be built in Wash­ington, DC. It was an enterprise of quixotic idealism that didn’t happen, but a model of the museum served as a focal point for Gioni’s show. Carefully crafted and provocative, the model seemed to grant permission to do anything except be fashionable...see the entire review in the print version of December's Sculpture magazine.

Edson Chagas, Luanda, Encyclopedic City, 2013. View of installation at Palazzo Cini.
Venice, California- Anna Sew Hoy: Very Small Fires Gallery
by Kathleen Whitney
Anna Sew Hoy’s work has a lot to do: it refers to the politics of display and consumer culture, makes note of the DIY aspect of art-making, and comments on personal lifestyle. The individual objects are made from a number of different materials, using a wide range of processes. There are many themes—craft versus machine, high design, fashion, and consumerism—layered over four different classes of objects. These objects consist of octagonal ceramic pieces (most covered in fabric), the obsessively designed stands that display them, fabric objects so deconstructed that there’s little left but strips of fabric zippers and labels, and linear, circular steel objects. Hoy’s statement explains the title of the show, “Home Office,” by giving an account of a workday in her studio. She describes the sprawl of computer cords, a pile of clothes, her cluttered worktable, identifying these daily sights as sources of imagery and information. She compares touching her laptop’s keyboard with touching clay, one of her many materials...see the entire review in the print version of December's Sculpture magazine.

Anna Sew Hoy, Your Gaze, 2013. Powder-coated steel, 3 elements, 52.5–68.25 x 28– 33.5 x 25-28.5 in.
New York- Miroslaw Balka: Gladstone Gallery
by Robert C. Morgan
Miroslaw Balka’s 2 x (350 x 300 x 300), 36 x 36 x 29 / The Order of Things—a large-scale, welded sculpture of weathering steel—is an obverse rhomboid, split into two equal sections with darkened water pouring into each half. The sound emanating from the descent of this colored liquid as it flows into the two large vats is deafening at times. Viewers might wonder if the work was intended as a fountain, a site-specific installation, or possibly a monumental assisted readymade. During its incarnation at the Gladstone Gallery, The Order of Things was given its own space in a large partitioned area illuminated by a south-facing skylight. To enter, one had to pass through a small wooden door separating the reception area and offices from the space in which the work was housed. A single stool stood in front of the massive sculpture. The seat, too low for an adult, suggested the presence of a child. Might this child represent the artist’s memory of himself? Could this mechanical steel structure relate to a traumatic incident he might have experienced while growing up...see the entire review in the print version of December's Sculpture magazine.

Miroslaw Balka, 2 x (350 x 300 x 300), 36 x 36 x 29 / The Order of Things, 2013. Steel, water pumps, plastic, rubber, water, food coloring, and wood, installation view.
New York- “One of a Kind: Unique Artist’s Books”: AC Institute
by Joyce Beckenstein
Heide Hatry, a German artist and former antiquarian bookseller, recently assembled a collection of contemporary incarnations of the book—from ancient text to high-tech video—and installed her selections in a library-like setting at AC Institute in Chelsea. “One of a Kind” celebrated the many facets of the book as a sculptural, interactive, non-site-specific, multimedia art form. But there was a crack in the spine of this otherwise sturdy exhibition that made it the tail wagging the dog of a covert cur­atorial agenda. But first, hats off to the artists. Claudia Sbrissa’s B (Vol.2, World Book Edition) (2010) speaks volumes to the anticipated demise of the book as a coveted possession to be held, leafed through with moistened fingers, even dog-eared. These pleasures may one day be as defunct as the B volume from the World Book Encyclopedia that Sbrissa sealed in a coating of beeswax. It suggests retired knowledge, its perspectives...see the entire review in the print version of December's Sculpture magazine.


Chie Hasegawa, Liberalia, 2000. Paper bound in wrappers and paper clamp, 9 x 8.5 x 3.5 in. From “One of a Kind.”
New York- Rona Pondick: Sonnabend Gallery
by Kim Levin
When Rona Pondick’s sculptural installations first appeared in the mid-1980s, their raw expression of abjection, feminist rage, infantile greed, and intimations of mortality was startling. Roughly made, her unsettling works were ambivalent, psychological, and completely uncanny: elongated lead beds, beds protruding baby bottles like teats, weird agglomerations of children’s shoes and pillows, mounds of pink skull-like balls with casts of the artist’s biting teeth that might have emerged from a catacomb. Then, just before the turn of this century, her work morphed into equally uncanny metal hybrid beings—as sleekly polished and precisely modulated as her former work was grungy. Melding casts of her own face and hands with the forms of trees or small animals, she began to make polymorphous half-human mutants. In 1997, she planted her first aluminum tree outdoors and surrounded it with a scattering of fallen apple-teeth. With Dog (1998–2001), she sculpted herself as a sphinx-like creature, part human, part dog...see the entire review in the print version of December's Sculpture magazine.

Rona Pondick, Ginko, 2007–12. Stainless steel, 57.75 x 33.75 x 41 in.
Providence- Thomas Morrissey: AS220 Project Space
by Suzanne Volmer
An in-your-face, freedom-of-speech quality informed Thomas Morrissey’s recent installation about the summary worth of creative endeavor. His life’s work was arranged, boxed, labeled with limited descriptions, and given a by-the-pound valuation. Heavy-duty, locked chain-link gates made the collection inaccessible, and an overhead security camera remained trained on his intellectual and artistic property. In Approximate­ly 7,642 Pounds of Art, Stacked and Somewhat Arranged, the sense of things was confrontational, with a hard edge from a dark place. Morrissey’s installation brought viewers abruptly into the challenging conceptual terrain of statement art...see the entire review in the print version of December's Sculpture magazine.


Thomas Morrissey, Approximately 7,642 Pounds of Art, Stacked and Somewhat Arranged, 2013. Boxed, crated, and inventoried art, chain-link security gate, security cameras, and mixed media, installation view.
Seattle- Dan Webb and Edward Wicklander: Greg Kucera Gallery
by Matthew Kangas
Recent solo exhibitions bolstered the standing of two of Seattle’s most accomplished sculptors, Dan Webb and Edward Wicklander. Long-term residents of the city, both have shown extensively outside the Pacific Northwest for the past two decades. With the younger Webb, a Cornish College graduate coming off earlier exhibitions in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, a strong sense of conceptualism underlies over-the-top material handling—in this case, carved wood. Wicklander’s eighth Kucera survey since 1985 also underscored virtuoso studio workmanship—in welded steel and carved wood—but drew from more recognizable imagery. What unites both artists is recourse to an illusionism that grows out of fallback reliance on Surrealism as an inspiration. This shared source both liberates and confines Webb and Wicklander. How buoyant are Wicklander’s seven Steel Balloons? Mounted on a wall or, as in Balloon Quartet (both 2013), suspended on a line, they epitomize his way with material paradoxes and construction, punning strategies, and visual one-liners...see the entire review in the print version of December's Sculpture magazine.

Dan Webb, Runner, 2011. Carved maple, 51 x 58 x 58 in.
Tel Aviv- Absalon: Tel Aviv Museum of Art
by Angela Levine
Twenty years have passed since the death of the Israeli-French artist Absalon at the age of 29. This show, a revised version of a comprehensive exhibition mounted two years ago at Berlin’s KW Institute of Contemporary Art, featured installations, sculptures, models, preparatory sketches, and video works loaned from museums and private collections around the world. In Tel Aviv, “The White City,” with its hundreds of International/ Bauhaus-style buildings, the artist’s spare, all-white constructions seemed most at home. Solutions (1992) provided a valuable introduction to Absalon’s personalized spatial language. In the video, he appears in an almost bare white cell, carrying out a succession of domestic activities such as sitting, eating...see the entire review in the print version of December's Sculpture magazine.

Absalon, Cell 3 (Proto­type): New York, 1992. Wood, cardboard, paint, fabric, and neon tubes, dimensions variable.
 
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