International Sculpture Center
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December 2014
Vol. 33 No.10

A publication of the
International Sculpture Center

This selection of shows has been curated by Sculpture magazine editorial staff and includes just a few of the great shows around the world.

Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, the Netherlands: Laura Lima
Through January 11, 2015
Laura Lima, Doped/Dopado.“Poetry, reason, secrets, madness, existence, and power” are the keywords behind Lima’s unique blend of performance, sculpture, and installation. Inspired by human behavior and social dynamics, her work undermines everyday life, questioning how we get along with others and the role played by objects in our relationships. By transforming the familiar—living humans, animals, and objects—and putting them into (museum) environments where they don’t belong, she sets up situations that border on the alienated. Iconic mid-century chairs transformed into wheelchairs probe the health of Modernist ideas; bathroom mirrors held in the hands of invisible strangers (apparently hidden behind walls) raise the specter of surveillance; and a tailor shop making bespoke suits for frames exposes the superficiality of appearances. Though such completely irrational works are all about the pleasure and frisson of absurdity carried into reality, their world takes on a strangely immediate life that can quickly descend from creative invention into destructive chaos. Web site www.bonnefanten.nl

Laura Lima, Doped/Dopado.
Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis: Mel Chin
Through December 20, 2014
Mel Chin, installation view of “Rematch.”Chin refuses to be pinned down, hemmed in, or otherwise restricted from pursuing whatever notion fires his imagination—in whatever medium seems appropriate. Though he began his career with sculptures rooted in ancient cultures, social questions, and geopolitical issues, after a 1989 solo show at the Hirshhorn in Washington, DC, and a “living memorial” to extinct species at New York’s Central Park, he changed gears, abandoning object-making for a conceptual form of art based in botany, ecology, and hands-on collaboration. Moving fluidly from sculpture, video, drawing, and painting to land-based and performance art and new media pop culture interventions, his work has no trademark style; the common thread lies in conceptual rigor, thoughtful historicism, and a concern for social justice. This retrospective, which features approximately 50 works from the past 40 years—including his massive interdisciplinary mobilization Operation Paydirt (Fundred)—reflects the collaborative and viral nature of his endeavors, celebrating a practice of constant commitment based on mutation, evolution, and re-examination. Web site www.contemporarystl.org

Mel Chin, installation view of “Rematch.”.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids Highly Recommended: Emerging Sculptors
Through January 4, 2015
Loris Cecchini, Wallwave Vibration (anatomy of a diagram), from “Highly Recommended.Presented in conjunction with the sixth annual ArtPrize competition, “Highly Recommended” brings together works by 16 up-and-coming international sculptors—all chosen on the recommendation of artists represented in the permanent collection. This curatorial twist gives a unique perspective on the trajectory of contemporary sculpture. Instead of a single, unified selection, the show offers a complex cross-section through the field as it stands today, reveling in its variety—of materials, scales, processes, and philosophies. Featured artists include Katrin Albrecht, Armen Agop, Loris Cecchini, Michele Ciribifera, Lucy Glendinning, Osman Khan, Alyson Shotz, Tom Price, Alisha Wessler, and Christopher Yockey. Web site www.meijergardens.org


Loris Cecchini, Wallwave Vibration (anatomy of a diagram), from “Highly Recommended.”
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art Humlebaek, Denmark: Olafur Eliasson
Through January 4, 2015
Eliasson’s complex investigations at the intersection of human perception and natural phenomena combine stunning visual pyrotechnics, conceptual sophistication, and scientific curiosity. His constructions use geometric and crystalline forms, light projections, and natural materials such as water and plant matter to shift the viewer’s sense of place and consciousness, creating atmospheres in which to encounter what he calls “devices for evaluating the experience of reality.” This three-part show, which includes videos and more than 400 models, centers on Riverbed—a dramatically down-to-earth, site-specific re-creation of terrain as installation that investigates connections between the museum and nature, architecture and landscape, as well as across space, body, and time. Web site: www.louisiana.dk


Olafur Eliasson, Riverbed
Madison Square Park, New York: Tony Cragg
Through February 8, 2015

Tony Cragg, Mixed Feelings..The individual elements that make up Cragg’s compositions are important, but his process depends on whether and how those elements can be developed and transformed. A scientific, almost “manic,” interest in the potential movement of bodies drives him to search for, study, and reveal all possible mutations of a primary structure. Executed in a variety of materials, his shape-shifting sculptures reject the idea of closed form in favor of “openings.” The three dynamically torqued bronzes on view here—Caldera, Mixed Feelings, and Points of View—reveal the same physical approach to spirituality that invests the Micro/Macrostructures, Organs and Organisms, Vessels and Cells, and Rational Beings, offering what Cragg calls “an alternative to looking at nature and an alternative to looking at a dull-headed industrial, utilitarian reality.”

Web site www.madisonsquarepark.org


Tony Cragg, Mixed Feelings..

MIT List Visual Arts Center Cambridge, Massachusetts: Thea Djordjadze
Through January 4, 2015
Thea Djordjadze, She didn’t have friends, children, sex, religion, marriage, success, a salary or a fear of death. She worked.
Created from humble materials and domestic detritus (wood, clay, plaster, glass, fabric, soap, and cardboard), Djordjadze’s elusive sculptures and installations are characterized by fragility and transience. Seemingly produced on the spur of the moment, they crystallize the process of their production and possible alteration through time, manifesting as temporarily inscribed “gestures” in an exhibition space. Though they resemble familiar forms such as domestic objects, architectural elements, and presentation devices (plinths, display cases, and cabinets) and hint at narrative and personal recollection, these inexplicable assemblages refute explanation. Djordjadze describes her practice in terms of poetic form, comparing the dialogue between her works to the relationship between words. The artifacts themselves project a cer­- tain power, retaining something of the aura that sparks the thrill of Surrealist juxtaposition or infuses Beuys’s materials with shamanistic/ ritualistic potency, but their efficacy is held in check by a doubting literalism—an effective and sometimes uncomfortable combination. Web site http://web.mit.edu/lvac


Thea Djordjadze, She didn’t have friends, children, sex, religion, marriage, success, a salary or a fear of death. She worked.
Moderna Museet, Stockholm: Nina Canell
Through January 4, 2015
Nina Canell, Brief Syllables. Inspiring associations that stretch far beyond the concrete, Canell’s works treat ordinary materials such as nails, air, water, chewing gum, and sound as agents capable of transforming processes, situations, and events into vehicles of poetic imagination. Her precise approach to the elements of sculpture and their combination recalls how a writer chooses and assembles the words that shape the flow of a sentence. Energy, both evident and hidden, becomes the means to circumvent sculpture’s usual stability, though the results may be unexpected and contradictory: barely touching, suspended nails defy the law of gravity, a piece of rubber migrates toward the floor in a motion so slow that it escapes vision, and a sooty trail on a small stick traces a path blazed by 4,000 volts of electricity. “Mid-Sentence,” Canell’s first solo show in Sweden, emphasizes the role of possibility in her work, each piece acting as a freestanding coordinate with no def­inite meaning or end. With more than a hint of pre-modern scientific curiosity, thinking itself becomes energy, opening a window on alternative routes to knowledge. Web site www.modernamuseet.se


Nina Canell, Brief Syllables.
Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main: Subodh Gupta
Through January 18, 2015
Subodh Gupta, Two CowsGupta’s large-scale assemblage sculptures give a magnified status to the prosaic objects and rituals of everyday life. Gathered together in mega-structures, specifically Indian utensils and tools—from aluminum dishes and pans to milking buckets, bicycles, and shopping carts—become building blocks in a semantically witty exploration of the clash between local traditions and globalized progress, spirituality and the pursuit of material gain. Gupta’s versions of these artifacts aren’t found, but re-created, cast in stainless steel or bronze and carved in marble. This aggrandizing of material (and frequently size) might confer an ironic luxury status, but it is sincere in its elevation of basic needs and simple technologies over the accouterments of greed—the revaluation reinforced by the apparently incongruous appearance of cow dung, loam, jute, and wood. Cooking and eating play an essential role in this balancing act, con­sidered manifestos of daily cultural practice as well as foundational symbols of existence. Gupta’s fascination with the domestic sphere spills over into a performative work created especially for this show: visitors can sample an Indian meal on the first Saturday of each month during the run of the exhibition.  Web site www.mmk-frankfurt.de


Subodh Gupta, Two Cows
Museum of Modern Art, New York: Robert Gober
Through January 18, 2015

Robert Gober, Untitled. The conjunction of the familiar and the unusual in Gober’s sculptures and installations exerts a seductive fascination. Subtly, yet purposefully diverging from everyday reality, his works—whether replicas of domestic objects such as washbasins, playpens, urinals, and bundles of newspapers or representations of the fragmented human body—confuse the boundary between the ordinary and the unknown. “The Heart Is Not a Metaphor,” the first major survey of his work in the U.S., features more than 130 sculptures and works on paper, including a number of immersive installations, that invest domestic imagery and religious motifs with enigmatic vigor. Regardless of precise thematic content, Gober’s works are always boundary zones—between light and dark, the visible and the concealed, the conscious and the subconscious, the surface and the subterranean worlds—where uneasy imitations of the apparently normal verge on the potentially menacing, where clear-cut categories no longer apply and bodily experience must be constantly renegotiated. Web site www.moma.org


Robert Gober, Untitled.

Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas: Anna-Bella Papp
Through January 18, 2015
Untitled (After Myron). Papp makes exquisitely restrained works in unfired clay. Occupying tabletops or mounted to walls, her sculpted reliefs are intimate in scale, though, like the architectural models or site plans that they resemble, they suggest almost monumental objects and spaces. Timeless and placeless in their austerity, these spare, rectangular forms recall the reliefs of Arp and Giaco­metti, with an echo of Morandi. Although relatively flat, the works are resolutely sculptural, their subtle inflections and minor surface articulations taking on surprising power. Few contemporary artists have the ability to use such minimal means to such moving effect. Web site www.nashersculpturecenter.org


Untitled (After Myron).
SculptureCenter Long Island City, New York Puddle, Pothole, Portal
Through January 5, 2015
Mick Peter, Albert and Jenny, from “Puddle." Taking its cue from the reality- morphing cartoon gags in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, “Puddle, pothole, portal” plays with the boundaries between flatness and depth, real and illusory space—whether physical, virtual, internal, or external. Featured works—all of them chim­eras of one sort or another—escape the confining laws that separate drawing from sculpture, the human from the nonhuman, and the animated from the static, while their disruption of ordinary physical norms leads to fantastic and absurd implications for objects and space. With screens, passageways, and shadows constantly transmogrifying, certainty is impossible, and that’s a good thing. Whether reflections of the objective world, obstructions, or fantasies, these maddening, liminal thresholds always lead to new worlds, even if they exist only in our minds. Web site www.sculpture-center.org


Mick Peter, Albert and Jenny, from “Puddle."
Site Santa Fe, Santa Fe SITElines, 2014: Unsettled Landscapes
Through January 11, 2015
Above and detail: Jason Middlebrook, Your General Store, from "SITElines” . “Unsettled Landscapes”—the first installment of SITELines, the newly re-politicized incarnation of Site Santa Fe’s signature biennial—marks a continuing commitment to community and place while emphasizing under-recognized and emerging artists. As a whole, the series will focus on the “urgencies, political conditions, and historical narratives” behind the work of contemporary artists across the Americas, from Nunavut to Tierra del Fuego—a broad template of concerns introduced here by three specific themes: landscape, territory, and trade. Works by 45 artists and collaboratives from 16 countries deny any notion of homogeneity, voicing little-known histories and outlooks through the connections that link representations of the land, movement across the land, and exploitation of the land. Among the highlights are 13 new commissions, ranging from Andrea Bowers’s large-scale sculpture memorializing a lost grove of oaks and sycamores to a cheekily subversive realization of Robert Oppenheimer’s memo requesting that Manhattan Project custodians drive a nail into the wall for his hat; Futurefarmers offers three choices made from a meteorite, 1943 steel pennies, and Tritinite (the glassy residue left in the desert after the bomb was detonated). Other artists contributing new works include Miler Lagos, Glenda León, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Jason Middlebrook, and the team of Marcos Ramírez ERRE and David Taylor. Web site www.sitesantafe.org


Above and detail: Jason Middlebrook, Your General Store, from "SITElines” .

Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen: Elmgreen & Dragset
Through January 4, 2015
Elmgreen & Dragset, Welcome Elmgreen and Dragset, who have collaborated since 1995, explore how design, architecture, and urban planning shape human behavior. Their installations, performances, and large-scale environments, particularly the “Powerless Structures,” challenge architectural and social norms in order to investigate the underlying desires of everyday objects and the mechanisms of ideological control behind even the simplest arrangements of walls, ceilings, entrances, and exits. This second installment of their category-defying retrospective features three shape-shifting stagings—works that begin in the realm of the real and quickly engulf viewers in a surreal terrain. Pushing mutability to its limits, “Biography” explores the conditions that define “self” and “self-image” in a time of constant change and blurred differentiations. When everything is open to reconstruction, the personal, the exceptional, and the disaffected trump the familiar and universal, blurring the line between art and real life. Web site www.smk.dk

Elmgreen & Dragset, Welcome

Suyama Space, Seattle: LILIENTHAL|ZAMORA
Through December 19, 2014

LILIENTHAL|ZAMORA, Never Finished. LILIENTHAL|ZAMORA, a collaboration between Etta Lilienthal and Ben Zamora, began in 2008 as an extension of their individual practices in performance design. Taking the lessons learned from opera, dance, and theater stagings, they have applied their understanding to immersive light installations in which viewers become actors caught up in a heightened version of ordinary reality. Never Finished, their ambitious new hanging labyrinth, creates a powerful geometric volume of light, full of tension and release. Simultaneously drawn together and blown apart, the rhythmic structure of the fluorescent bars oscillates between dissonance and magnetism, darkness and light, order and disorder, pulsating in an alternating, never-ending sequence that becomes as natural as breathing.

Web site www.suyamapetersondeguchi. com/art

LILIENTHAL|ZAMORA, Never Finished.

Victoria and Albert Museum, London: Disobedient Objects
Through January 4, 2015
Bread and Puppet Theater, installation tableau, from “Disobedient Objects.” Can art play a significant role in protest strategies? From the Suffragettes to The Yes Men, many politically engaged artists would say yes; most critics, however, would use another word to describe the visual “props” associated with activist efforts. And yet, many of these objects succeed both creatively and practically, becoming instantly recognizable symbols of resistance and solidarity that speak louder than any rhetorical flourish: Act Up’s pink triangle, the masks of the Guerrilla Girls, and the anti-war puppets of Bread and Puppet Theater, to name a few, all managed to lodge themselves—and their causes—in the public consciousness. “Disobedient Objects,” the first exhibition to examine the power of objects as tools of social change, makes a strong case for how political activism can drive the kind of ingenious, and collective, creativity that defies standard definitions of art. Focusing on the period from the late ’70s to the present, a time of rapidly changing technologies and political challenges, it brings together various arts of rebellion from around the world: from dollar bills “defaced” with info-graphics about U.S. economic disparity and shields painted to look like book covers (designed to protect people demonstrating against U.K. education cuts) to evolving designs for barricades, “lock-ons,” and blockades, 123Occupy’s inflatable general assembly structure, experimental activist-bicycles, and tear gas mask kits. Whether directing the action, broadcasting the message, making alternative worlds, or building consensus, even the smallest of these objects has the ability to establish a personal connection to a collective cause or abstract injustice. Further inspiration can be found in the show’s final section, which offers case studies in artistic infiltration, including the ingenious culture-jamming projects of the Barbie Liberation Organization. Web site www.vam.ac.uk

Bread and Puppet Theater, installation tableau, from “Disobedient Objects.”

Yorkshire Sculpture Park West Bretton, Wakefield, U.K.: Fiona Banner
Through January 4, 2015
Fiona Banner, Wp Wp Wp. Best known for her “wordscapes,” frame-by-frame descriptions of the action in war and pornographic films, Banner has long been fascinated by fighter planes. From pencil drawings to newspaper cuttings and small-scale sculptures, the modesty of her works contrasted with the heroic (and uncomfortable) connotations of her subject until her Duveens Commission at Tate Britain (2010), where she matched scale with subject in a massive installation of decommissioned fighters. For Banner, military aircraft are equal parts beauty and horror, their mute violence embodying the “opposite of language” pressed into service when communication fails. “Wp Wp Wp,” her new exhibition, mimics the distinctive sound of rotating helicopter blades but omits the craft’s physical body. Chinook, the central installation in this suite of works, brings human and machine into close proximity as two sets of suspended blades move in a precarious and unnerving choreography that stops just short of collision, their ballet “acting out the dilemma and contradiction of our relationship with the military and its hardware.” Web site www.ysp.co.uk

Fiona Banner, Wp Wp Wp.


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