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March 2015
Vol. 34 No. 2

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.

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco: Ai Weiwei
Through April 26, 2015
Ai Weiwei, Refraction.Ai could have no better muse than America’s most notorious military and federal penitentiary, a symbolic locus where liberty, justice, surveillance, detainment, and individual rights and responsibilities all collide. He has already drawn inspiration from his own incarceration in 2008 and his continuing confinement within the borders of China (SACRED, which debuted at the Venice Biennale), but here, he responds to the confluence of history, context, and the built environment in a more universalizing way with seven new sculptural, sound, and mixed-media works. Installed in four locations—the New Industries building where “privileged” inmates were allowed to work, the main and psychiatric wards of the hospital, the A Block cells, and the dining hall—Ai’s interventions literally fly in the face of restriction. Kites, bird wings, portraits of political prisoners, and blooming flowers, accompanied by a participatory postcard project addressed to political prisoners around the world and the sound of voices raised in protest and creative expression—from traditional Hopi singers (members of the tribe were the first prisoners of conscience at Alcatraz) to South Africa’s Robben Island Singers and Russia’s Pussy Riot—demonstrate Ai’s deeply held belief that “when you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill.”

Web site www.AiWeiweiAlcatraz.org


Ai Weiwei, Refraction.
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut: Ernesto Neto / Mary Beth Edelson / Jackie Winsor / Kate Gilmore
Through April 15, 2015
Kate Gilmore, A Roll in the Way.To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Aldrich is hosting a suite of four sculpture exhibitions and installations. Suspended from the 25-foot ceiling of the atrium, Neto’s The Body That Gravitates on Me creates what he calls “a kind of fantasy of nature and a hypothesis about the structure of a body,” a hybrid of appendages and orifices, interior and exterior, weightlessness and gravitational pull. Gilmore’s A Roll in the Way, a new commission, juxtaposes a sculpture of paint-covered logs with a video that almost lampoons the extraordinary physical effort behind the finished work. Challenging Richard Serra’s testosterone-infused process—drop, roll, and splash—Gilmore systematically hauls her heavy lengths of wood, dips them in paint, and rolls them onto their base; viewers can decide the exact meaning of her title: A Roll in the Way appears in conjunction with Serra’s Bent Pipe Roll. The sentiment behind Gilmore’s work owes a great debt to an earlier generation of female artists, including Winsor, one of a number of boundary-breaking pioneers who rejected “feminist” subject matter to play with the monumentalizing toys and critical ambitions of their male peers. In Winsor’s hands, the idealized Minimalist grid became nothing more than a foil for raw matter, a frame in which to set the messy vagaries of process and time. “With and Within” features 10 works from her “Inset Wall” series (begun in the late ’80s), the influential performative sculpture Painted Piece (1979–80), and videos and photos recording the creation of Fifty-Fifty and Burnt Piece. The final show spotlights six of Edelson’s story gathering boxes, an ongoing project begun in 1972. Early examples of social practice, these collaborative projects, once initiated by the artist, evolve through a “ritual of inquiry” in which viewers contribute their ideas to diverse themes, from Gender Parity (1972–ongoing) and Great Mother (1973) to Family Immigration Stories, which debuts here.

Web site www.aldrichart.org

Kate Gilmore, A Roll in the Way.

Gemeentemuseum, The Hague: Hans Hovy
Through April 6, 2015
Hans Hovy, SculptureA former furniture maker and restorer, Hovy displays a deep understanding of materials, from bronze and cast iron to wood and stone. “Sculptissimo,” his first museum exhibition, features a series of soapstone and alabaster sculptures carved, drilled, filed, and sanded with enormous precision. Gently rounded, playful, and inviting, these pink and white forms exude cuteness. Their innocence, however, is only feigned. Tinged with more than a taste of kimo-kawaii (Japan’s “gross-cute” antidote to a cultural sweet-tooth), they tease, mock, disconcert, and tantalize by means of an ironic and perverse purity.

Web site www.gemeentemuseum.nl

Hans Hovy, Sculpture.
Haus der Kunst, Munich: Mark Leckey
Through March 31, 2015
Mark Leckey, GreenScreen-RefrigeratorAction. Leckey’s works in sculpture, sound, performance, and video reveal a dual fascination with the material thing-ness of objects and the pervasively disseminated immateriality of digital images. Not unlike Jeff Koons (whom he admires), Leckey combs through the icons, brands, and products of popular culture, but his goal is to get to the source of their power and to understand just how they work on desire, identity, and memory—without turning mass culture into art. Real-life immediacy, achieved through free appropriation from the British cultural fringe, saves Leckey from Koonsian rarefication and commodification. Beginning with the premise of letting “culture use you as an instrument,” he ends up with raw, emotionally true-to-life glimpses into the human psyche. “As If” focuses on alternative channels of communication as opened up by his “Sound Systems”; animated objects set into motion in the “glypotheque” films and videos (including an uncanny, speaking refrigerator); and the pursuit of autobiographical understanding in a world premised on relationships with things.

Web site www.hausderkunst.de

Mark Leckey, GreenScreen-RefrigeratorAction.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston: Adriana Varejão
Through April 15, 2015
Adriana Varejão, Carpet-Style Tilework on Canvases. Illusion, theatricality, excess, artifice, allegory, and disguise—Varejão’s works invent a modern Baroque and offer a powerfully visceral experience. Her lacerated paintings and wall tiles (inspired by traditional Portuguese azulejos) create a tension that spans sculpture, painting, and architecture, mining history to reflect on the present. Her first U.S. solo show features a wide selection of works from 1993 through 2014, including sculptures from the “Tongues and Incisions” and “Jerked-Beef Ruins” series in which “ruined” walls open up to reveal strips of raw flesh. But such virtuoso trompe l’oeil exhibitionism is not an end in itself; part of an updated approach to anthropophagy, or cultural cannibalism, it initiates a perceptive and disarming critique of post-colonial Brazil—an unusual combination that makes Varejão one of the most original and provocative figures in contemporary Latin American art.

Web site www.icaboston.org


Adriana Varejão, Carpet-Style Tilework on Canvases.
The MAC, Belfast: Stuart Brisleye
Through April 26, 2015
Stuart Brisley, Hille Fellowship.Often referred to as the godfather of British performance art, Brisley is best known for a series of works from the 1970s and ’80s that used his body as a site, tool, and instrument to uphold individual rights and challenge authority. “Headwinds,” his second major survey in recent months, moves beyond these iconic performances to shed light on his broader artistic practice, including early and rarely seen works, as well as recent paintings, videos, and sculptures. Despite the distinct formalism that underpins his six-decade career, Brisley has unflinchingly probed the political, cultural, and social weaknesses of our times, from the exploitation of labor to the abuses of monarchy, to social and cultural waste. “All work needs content,” he says, “without content there is no work.” Sharp-edged and consistently inventive, his singularly ironic voice is finding a new resonance today, as we face the same issues once again.

Web site themaclive.com


Stuart Brisley, Hille Fellowship.
Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts: Teresita Fernández
Through April 5, 2015
Teresita Fernández, Lunar (Theatre). Fernández’s immersive installations and evocative large-scale sculptures reduce the forces of the natural world to their simplest elements—color and light, depth and space, present and passing time—acting as screens, mirrors, and lenses that vacillate between object and per­ceptual experimentation. Stainless steel, glass, plastic, graphite, and gold seemingly dissolve into reflection and shadow in minimal and delicately balanced formations that belie the effort behind their appearance. “As Above So Below”—the title draws on Hermetic tradition—features three new landscape-informed installations that distill the alchemical balance of the universe: an action occurring on one level of reality finds its correlates on every other level. Together, Black Sun, Sfumato (Epic), and Lunar (Theatre) present a full spectrum of ambitious and mercurial visions that float, shimmer, and undulate before the eyes, offering an ephemeral engagement that lingers long after we’ve left their presence.

Web site www.massmoca.org

Teresita Fernández, Lunar (Theatre).
Middelheim Museum, Antwerp: Kader Attia
Through March 29, 2015
Kader Attia, Gueules cassées.Paris-based Attia takes a confrontational approach to questions of community, diversity, exile, and the tangled threads of identity in a globalized world. His installations frequently plunge the viewer into unsettling environments, characterized by inundating repetition, grating movements, and claustrophobic stretches of infinity. Visitors to Infinities (2006), for instance, found themselves surrounded by giant drill bits, each slowly revolving in an illusion of constant downward pressure; as if this scenario weren’t uncomfortable enough, the mirrors lining the room reflected an endless expanse of mechanized torture. His new wood sculptures, the latest addition to an ongoing reflection on the nature of “repair,” were inspired by photo­graphs of les gueules cassées—disfigured soldiers from the Great War, many of them drafted from the colonies. Created in collaboration with traditional craftsmen in Bamako (Mali) and Brazzaville (Congo), the broken features of these 13 portrait busts strike an uneasy détente between opposing cultures and peoples. But the pathos goes deeper: a new iteration of Al Aqsa summons the gods of war with 350 outdoor cymbals that, despite their tranquil geometric configuration, sound an evocative and emotionally tumultuous score in response to the elements—sometimes soothing, sometimes nerve-racking, and sometimes downright apocalyptic.

Web site www.middelheimmuseum.be

Kader Attia, Gueules cassées.
Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Australia: Matthew Barney
Through April 13, 2015
Matthew Barney, installation view of River of Fundament. Seven years in the making, River of Fundament marks the culmination (thus far) of Barney’s intertwined method of storytelling. A five-hour symphonic film, large-scale sculptures, drawings, photographs, storyboards, and vitrines come together in an intense meditation on death, rebirth, transformation, and transcendence. Inspired by Ancient Evenings, Norman Mailer’s singular vision of ancient Egyptian life and religion, River of Fundament recasts the soul as an automobile (a 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperial from Cremaster 3) and reincarnation as recycling. After its “death” in a live 2008 performance, the car returns to its birthplace in Detroit, where it is reborn as a 1979 Pontiac Firebird; its soul then travels to New York, where myth materializes in sculpture. As Barney explains, each of the sculptures embodies a different relationship to elemental metals or to alloys—all based in the history of ancient Egyptian metal casting and Mailer’s scatological view of life, but translated into a distinctly Amer­­ican epic of the post-industrial era. In addition to Canopic Chest, Rouge Battery, Boat of Ra (an inversion of Mailer’s Brooklyn attic with a bronze cast of his writing desk), and other large sculptures from the Haus der Kunst premiere, this installation also features new works and selected objects from MONA’s antiquities collection.

Web site mona.net.au

Matthew Barney, installation view of River of Fundament.
Tate Modern, London: Richard Tuttle
Through April 6, 2015
Richard Tuttle, I Don’t Know. The Weave of Textile Language.A master of visual statements so slight, tentative, and delicate that they almost disappear, Tuttle is probably the last artist anyone would expect to engage the vastness of Turbine Hall, and yet, the match-up intrigued from the moment it was announced. Just how do you scale up diminutive frailty and material intimacy to reach spectacular proportions? Defeat seemed inevitable, translation impossible. But Tuttle has succeeded and done so by remaining true to his principles. I Don’t Know. The Weave of Textile Language is recognizably his work: an obliquely orchestrated juxtaposition of shape, color, and texture that extends materiality into a metaphysical pursuit. Following the structural properties of color (think weaving), he manages to inject openness, experimentation, and improvisation into the rigors of large-scale construction, fabricating without models while following a strict, self-determined set of rules to reach the end. Even on such an outsized scale, his work continues to question concepts of composition and frame, to toy with the balance between line and volume, and to merge the mystical with the material.

Web site www.tate.org.uk

Richard Tuttle, I Don’t Know. The Weave of Textile Language.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv: Anri Sala
Through March 21, 2015
Anri Sala, installation view of No Names No Title.Sala once said that he sees his “films as sculptures in which the way you view the work is sequenced and time-coded.” With a viewpoint like this, it was not surprising that he moved from the virtual world to the physical. In Title Suspended (2008), his first three-dimensional work, stretched the comparison with two gloved hands that (r)evolve in time—from entropy to bodily form—performing an almost cinematic loop. “No Names No Title,” his first solo exhibition in Israel, does justice to this widening practice, extending beyond the video works for which Sala is best known to focus on drawings, sculptures—including the newly commissioned Holey Wall (Should I Stay or Should I Go)—sound pieces, and performances. Regardless of medium, these works embrace flux, transition, and intermediate states, their formal properties mirroring their maker’s life, and they also share a fascination with language—both visual and spoken/auditory—using space and sound as keys to unlock places of perceptual change and of becoming, where rupture and displacement become tools of understanding.

Web site www.tamuseum.org.il


Anri Sala, installation view of No Names No Title.
Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York: Alyson Shotz
Through April 5, 2015
Alyson Shotz, installation view of Force of Nature. Shotz charges sculpture with the task of revealing the invisible forces at work in the physical world. Piano wire, glass beads, straight pins, thread, mirrors, and plastic lenses transcend mundane physicality to become conduits of light, gravity, mass, time, and space—exquisitely conceived and crafted experiments that transmute scientific principle into poetic mystery. From expandable sculptures shaped by gravity to materializing and dematerializing patterns of light, to forms unfolding in time and space, her work forges unexpected alliances between artistic and scientific vision. “Force of Nature” features a broad selection of discipline-bridging works—many of them specially created for the conditions at the Wellin—including elusive wall drawings, large-scale sculptures, ceramics, an animation, and evocations of impossible sculptural dreams.

Web site www.hamilton.edu/wellin

Alyson Shotz, installation view of Force of Nature.


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