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June 2015
Vol. 34 No. 5

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.

Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth: Mariko Mori
Through June 29, 2015
Mariko Mori, Primal Memory. Ranging from reincarnation to cyber pop, Mori’s techno-spiritual subject matter addresses all manner of universal themes. Over the last decade, she has increasingly shifted from explorations of how technology shapes identity and thought to poetic evocations of our connection to worlds beyond our own. “Rebirth” brings together a contemplative selection of her visionary installations, LED sculptures, drawings, and videos, evoking everything from the human life cycle to the creation of stars. Spare and absorbing, these works celebrate the precarious balance between body and spirit, earth and cosmos.

Web site www.artgallery.wa.gov.au


Mariko Mori, Primal Memory.
The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia: The Order of Things
Through August 3, 2015
Mark Dion, sketch for The Incomplete Naturalist In “The Order of Things,” commissioned artists Mark Dion, Judy Pfaff, and Fred Wilson respond to Albert C. Barnes’s notoriously unconventional approach to the museum experience. Ignoring the traditional rules of chronology and categorization by geography, style, and medium, he mixed modern paintings and old masters, furniture, metalwork, and household items in vividly bracing, if crowded, tableaux according to his own formal criteria—in other words, he acted as an installation artist. Not unlike Dion, Pfaff, and Wilson, Barnes invented a personal system for ordering the world, one that shifts contexts, invites different perspectives, and encourages critical thinking. In The Incomplete Naturalist, Dion applies the Barnes methodology to natural history, while considering the “destructive” nature of isolating objects in collections. Pfaff plays on the tension between order and disorder in Scene I: The Garden. Enter Mrs. Barnes, revealing a tacit disobedience in Barnes’s system, which echoes the dialogue between wildness and cultivation in the Barnes Arboretum. Wilson takes a different approach in Trace, creating a museum within the museum in which “readymade ensembles” rub up against rarely seen objects from storage; part way through the show, he is adding an aural component to the remix, creating a responsive “sound collage” from Barnes’s record collection and restoring music to its original place in the foundation’s education program. Wilson, speaking of Barnes’s “love of art, respect for artists, and desire for social change,” pays him fitting tribute: “In his own unique way, he put his money where his mouth was.”

Web site www.barnesfoundation.org

Mark Dion, sketch for The Incomplete Naturalist.

Center for Italian Modern Art, New York: Medardo Rosso
Through June 27, 2015
Medardo Rosso, La Conversazione Rosso’s pioneering experiments with materials and process—among other accomplishments, he found a way to arrest lost-wax bronze casting in mid-course and preserve the intermediate wax cast—exemplify how sculpture evolved during the late 19th century, with vigorous, sketchy modeling replacing realistic detail and wax elevated to the status of bronze. Though best known for the endless variations that he wrung out of his clay originals, Rosso also brought photography into his consideration of production and reproduction—not only as a means of documentation, but also as a reinterpretive medium capable of capturing the transformative atmospheric effects of light and shadow on three-dimensional form. With more than 100 works—many of them appearing in the U.S. for the first time—this show offers a rare opportunity to follow the iterations of Rosso’s serial sculptures across materials. It also features a comprehensive selection of little-known drawings and collages, as well as the artist’s original photographs (some reproducing long-lost, life-size plaster works).

Web site www.italianmodernart.org

Medardo Rosso, La Conversazione.
Fondation Cartier, Paris: Bruce Nauman
Through June 21, 2015
Bruce Nauman, Carousel (Stainless steel version).Idea- rather than medium-driven, Nauman has pursued numerous directions over the course of his career. But his diversity of expression—video, neon, sound, and sculpture—is deceptive. Beginning with his ground-breaking practices of the 1960s and carrying right through his recent spatial/aural compositions, he has been engaged in a coherent inquiry into how perception is shaped, how meaning is conveyed, and how language and space determine and alter human behavior. This show features recent multimedia installations, sound and video works, and sculptures, as well as earlier pieces, all selected by the artist for their resonance within the surrounding architecture and their ability to catalyze an intense range of physical and emotional experience. From immaterial examples of what Nauman calls “experience architecture” and a sound collaboration with Terry Allen to new investigations of physicality/action/endurance, these works lead viewers through an uneasy developmental progression in which play, its innocence gradually educated through practice and distorted by obsession, ends in fear, exhaustion, and anxiety.

Web site www.fondation.cartier.com

Bruce Nauman, Carousel (Stainless steel version).
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, U.K.: Carol Bove/Carlo Scarpa
Through July 12, 2015
Carol Bove, Hysteron Proteron Bove’s work marries signature Modernist forms such as cubes, rectangles, and cylinders with a wide variety of materials—some at home with this vocabulary (I-beams and powder-coated steel) and others seemingly at odds with it (driftwood, seashells, and peacock feathers). This exhibition pairs her work with rarely seen exhibition furniture, sculptures, and models by the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa. Though separated by training, age, and discipline, these apparently disparate creators share a concern for the object and its environment, exploring the nature of the sculptural encounter and the evolution of meaning in form. Reducing artistic language to a perfect balance of opposites—organic and non-organic, geometric and biomorphic, natural and manmade in Bove’s case; and past and present, form and absence, plane and volume in Scarpa’s—sculptor and architect grapple with how we experience and interpret history and negotiate the stratified fabric of our surroundings.

Web site www.henry-moore.ac.uk


Carol Bove, Hysteron Proteron.
The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, U.K.: Lynda Benglis
Through July 1, 2015
Installation view of Lynda Benglis. Benglis may be forever associated with her controversial 1974 “dildo” ad in Artforum, but her work extends far beyond blatant (if dead-on) mockeries of sexual prejudice. A pioneer in video and documentary, her interest in process has led her to expand the possibilities of material and form, from poured latex to fallen paintings, from pleated gold to anthropomorphized polyurethane and aluminum. Taking the body and the natural landscape as prime references, she creates works that ooze immediacy and physicality. This survey (the largest presentation of her work in the U.K.) spans an incredibly versatile 50-year career spent in pursuit of provocation both political and artistic. Whatever its medium, appearance, or subject matter, Benglis’s work challenges assumed precepts—Modernist, Minimalist, or post-Minimalist—by fusing content and form into evocative “frozen gestures.”  

Web site www.hepworthwakefield.org


Installation view of “Lynda Benglis.”
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin: Karla Black
Through July 26, 2015
Installation view of Karla Black. Black describes her work as “almost painting, performance, or installation while actually, and quite definitely, being sculpture.” Ephemeral floor-based pieces and remarkable hanging sculptures appear untouchably fragile, exuding a vulnerable and tactile beauty that masks a serious dialogue with nature and culture. In addition to addressing developmental experience, complete with sensory recollections awakened through powder paint, crushed chalk, and sugar paper, her work slyly alludes to tired associations with the feminine. Lipstick, nail varnish, self-tanners, and other tools of enhancement (some permanently wet and festering) interrupt otherwise clean surfaces, but their role extends beyond critique. For Black, concealment is a “civilizing procedure,” even when its effects fail. Truth and lies, myth and reality, material experience and language are just some of the dualities held in check by these twisted and taut forms, which owe as much to Bernini as they do to the anti-form works of Hesse and Smithson. This site-specific exhibition features new spatial formations that continue Black’s obsessive experimentation with process, floating “material, form, and color at eye level,” without the traditional crutches of plinth, shelf, or frame.

Web site www.imma.ie

Installation view of “Karla Black.”
Kunsthaus Bregenz / Kunstraum Dornbirn, Bregenz and Dornbirn, Austria: Berlinde De Bruyckere
Through July 5, 2015
Berlinde De Bruyckere, The Wound I.  Among contemporary artists, De Bruyckere is unique in her ability to see beyond the surface of the human figure and feel the body as unrelenting physicality—meat, tissue, and sinew. Fascinated by medieval and early Renaissance religious imagery (as well as ancient mythology), she has found a contemporary idiom for the intense physical suffering that accompanies incarnation, both human and animal. Her two-part exhibition, “Embalmer,” combines an installation of new horse sculptures at the Kunstraum Dornbirn and a generous survey at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, including a new group of wax, polyester, and iron works inspired by the processing of animal hides in a Brussels slaughterhouse. From Actaeon and the Man of Sorrows to a downed tree haunted by Daphne and horses massacred in battle, these visceral creations focus on the transformations and contradictions that define her vision of human life, as sensuality blurs into compassion and sins of the flesh shade into sins against the flesh.

Web site www.kunsthaus-bregenz.at
Web site www.kunstraumdornbirn.at

Berlinde De Bruyckere, The Wound I.
Museu de Arte Moderna, Saõ Paulo: Piero Manzoni
Through June 31
Piero Manzoni, Merda d’Artista n.58. Despite his short career, Manzoni (1933–63) set the course of the postwar avant-garde, not only in Italy, but around the world. His ironic works, created in everything from rabbit fur to excrement, anticipated (and influenced) Arte Povera, while his revisionist overhaul of the readymade prefigured conceptual art, calling into question the status of the art object and prompting a still-valid critique of mass production and consumer culture. Against the emptiness of modern life and its easily satirized fabrications, he posited another kind of visual expression, one that could “tap mythological sources and realize authentic and universal values.” For him, the conduit could be located nowhere else but in the natural and the uniquely personal—his own bodily products and features (blood, breath, and shit of the artist). Manifestos in the guise of parodies, his limited edition sculptures and prints fueled other experiments, including pedestals for “living statues” and solar energy investigations with the Zero group. The 30 works in this show underscore the radical character of Manzoni’s conflation of art and everyday life, from his first Achromes to his last works.

Web site mam.org.br

Piero Manzoni, Merda d’Artista n.58.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: William Pope.L
Through June 28, 2015
William Pope.L, Trinket. Small, cheap, and showy like costume jewelry, a trinket is worthless in and of itself, but invest it with personal or collective significance, and the negligible becomes a valued and powerful talisman. It’s no accident that Pope.L chose this inglorious word as the title not only for one of his sharpest installations, but also for this exhibition of new and recent work. A maker of texts, paintings, objects, fictions, and situations, he is best known for the provocative urban interventions and performances that he has been staging since the ’70s. Over the last decade, in conjunction with greater institutional recognition, he has increasingly turned to museums as a means to approach public concerns. His shows excel at ejecting viewers from their comfort zones by focusing on what usually remains unseen until it is dramatized by some extraordinary event. Trinket is no exception: in this monumental indoor installation, four industrial-grade fans direct a tornado-force wall of wind at an American flag, stretching and whipping it until it frays into a multi-limbed beast. Interpretations of this ambiguous image will vary, but Pope.L offers a double-edged explication, saying that while the flag (as trinket) is “what we do when we are not thinking,” the project is “a chance for people to feel the flag. People need to feel their democracy, not just hear words about it. For me, democracy is active, not passive…I am showing something that’s always been true. The American flag is not a toy. It’s not tame. It’s bright, loud, bristling and alive.”

Web site www.moca.org

William Pope.L, Trinket.
Savannah College of Art and Design, Museum of Art, Savannah: Nari Ward
Through June 27, 2015
Nari Ward, installation view of So-Called. A master of the found object, Ward revives otherwise spent detritus, giving decay an afterlife as art. Moved by an almost religious sentiment, his objects—many collected from neighborhoods where he’s lived and worked—evince an animistic con­ception of debris, projecting primal yearnings, emotions, and fears. Though this miracle of rehabilitation is performed by narrative, Ward’s tales are far from simple: stories told and untold, real and imagined, intertwine in new configurations that fuse forgotten personal and spiritual echoes with new, politically charged messages. “So-Called” features recent installations, sculptures, and films that mix and match the iconic, the obscure, and the popular into conceptually evocative conflations of normative definition and free-ranging interpretation. Common symbols unmoor themselves from their habitual meanings; the facts of reality morph into ambiguous potential. Resuscitating the past in order to excavate the present—its codes, behaviors, stereotypes—Ward replaces accepted certainties and established contexts with unknown possibilities, giving viewers the agency to draw their own conclusions.

Web site www.scadmoa.org


Nari Ward, installation view of “So-Called.”
Strozzina (Palazzo Strozzi), Florence: Anche le sculture muoiono
Through July 26, 2015
Francisco Tropa, Terra platónica, from Anche le sculture muoiono. Installed in conjunction with “Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World” (through June 21), “Sculptures Also Die” offers a unique opportunity to reflect on art’s relation to power, permanence, and monumentality. The sculpture of the past that has come down to us owes its survival to durable materials, those same materials (bronze and stone) that until very recently were considered passé and suitable only for academicians. But a new generation of sculptors has begun to reinterpret their processes and connotations, and more than a handful of older artists have returned to the fold of tradition, rethinking their youthful flirtation with the ephemeral, the found, and the improvised. When so much of the world is consumable and disposable, even the illusion of permanence acquires a new patina—though “permanent” no longer equates to “unchanging.” The works in this show—by Francesco Arena, Nina Beier, Katinka Bock, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Dario D’Aronco, N.Dash, Michael Dean, Oliver Laric, Mark Manders, Michael E. Smith, Fernando Sánchez Castillo, Francisco Tropa, and Oscar Tuazon—investigate the potent fusion of traditional materials and experimental approaches that value the “death” of a pristine, original state, accept the passage of time, and acknowledge the need to look ahead toward an indeterminate future.

Web site www.strozzina.org

Francisco Tropa, Terra platónica, from “Anche le sculture muoiono.”

Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City: Panopticon
Through July 25, 2015
Addie Wagenknecht,XXXX.XXX, from Panopticon.Control mechanism par excellence, Bentham’s panopticon (meaning “to observe all”) has become the ur-metaphor for today’s ubiquitous surveillance culture. Not even Foucault could have predicted the hubris of government agencies and private sector companies that, together and separately, pry into every aspect of our lives. Their pan-sensory hydra has become all-seeing and all-hearing, its labors outsourced to devices of every stripe, both innocuous and insidious. Specious justifications notwithstanding (protection, security, improved service, better health), this “friendly” incursion into privacy raises the spector of full-fledged violation. Just what uses are made of those recorded data and images—everything from what you buy, say, and write to where you live and where you travel—and who sees them? Analysts have already been disciplined for abusing information, and it’s not hard to imagine such ammunition as an enforcer of social order à la Joseph McCarthy. The works in this exhibition scrutinize all aspirants to the monitoring gaze, not only presenting the absurdity of “democratic” surveillance, but also questioning the misguided complicity that drives us to “share” in our own demise.

Web site www.utahmoca.org

Addie Wagenknecht, XXXX.XXX, from “Panopticon.”


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