International Sculpture Center
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December 2016
Vol. 35 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.

Blenheim Palace. Woodstock, Oxfordshire, U.K.: Michelangelo Pistoletto
Through December 31, 2016
Michelangelo Pistoletto,
Le Trombe del Giudizio Pistoletto's international reputation continues to grow thanks to a younger generation of artists inspired by his participatory practices and democratic approach to art-particularly his interdisciplinary laboratory, Cittadellarte, which fosters intellectual, political, and social dialogues that put subversion to positive use. This exhibition, his largest U.K. show to date, explores the wide-ranging interests of his 50-year practice, from early self-portraits to Quadri specchianti (Mirror Paintings), Cubi specchianti (Mirror Cubes), Oggetti in meno (Minus Objects), and Stracci (Rags), tracing an artistic progression that shifts from rigorous investigation into representations of the self to collaborative objects and actions uniting art and everyday life. In keeping with his humanist faith-a philosophy completely at home in the 18th-century interiors and grounds of Blenheim-the work of art becomes a secular place for meditation, where man with his capacity for imagination is the only true value.

Web site www.blenheimpalace.com


Michelangelo Pistoletto, Le Trombe del Giudizio.
Fondazione Prada, Venice: Betye Saar
Through January 8, 2017
Betye Saar, The Alpha and the
Omega A seminal figure in the redefinition of African American identity through art, Saar describes herself as an "uneasy dancer" poised in mid-passage, negotiating the crossroads of death and rebirth, race, and gender. Multi-layered commentaries on family, spirituality, and the stereotypes that nurture prejudice, her found-object and mixed-media assemblages allude to a rich variety of references and subjects, infusing historical imagery with contemporary meanings. Artistic traditions from the Americas, Africa, and beyond inform these paradoxical responses to the black and white delineations of political and social forces, holding their contradictions in a powerful visual tension. Though politically trenchant, her works move beyond protest to search for a mystically pragmatic commonality across time and cultures. This retrospective brings together more than 80 works created between 1966 and 2016, including The Alpha and the Omega (2013–16), a circular environment that encapsulates the journey of life while seeking to illuminate the obscured and the forgotten.

Web site www.fondazioneprada.org

Betye Saar, The Alpha and the Omega.

Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria: Lawrence Weiner
Through January 15, 2017
Lawrence Weiner, Toledo
Metro Station, Naples Weiner, a key figure in conceptualism (even if he views the category with suspicion), has defined art as "the relationship of human beings to objects and objects to objects in relation to human beings." That premise has provided the foundation for his work, from the Propeller and Removal paintings of the '60s to his "specific and general" works-the language-based pieces on which he has built his career. Almost 40 years ago, Weiner decided that language would serve as his material: words spoken, sung, painted on walls, printed in books and on matchbooks, stamped on coins, manhole covers, and any other available surface. As unconventional in self-definition as everything else, he views himself as a sculptor: one who, instead of shaping form, shapes understanding and relationships. "Wherewithal," Weiner's mental image for the state of the world today, features a series of new works that emphasize his profoundly spatial thinking and his "idealistic" commitment to art as a kind of geyser, letting off steam built up by the excessive pressure of social and intel- ­lectual entrapment.

Web site www.kunsthaus-bregenz.at

Lawrence Weiner, Toledo Metro Station, Naples
Künstlerhaus, Graz, Austria: Claudia Märzendorfer Ed Gfrerer
Through January 15, 2017
Claudia Märzendorfer,
Motorset. Märzendorfer's work-volatile installations made of dust particles and precarious ice sculptures shaped like playable LPs-elude conventional expectations about art as a process leading to a product. She also deals in a kind of suspension and infiltration of normality, as in the case of her knitted (re)constructions of truck parts. Driven by a refusal to accept situations and things as given, her work employs time as tool and material, builder and destroyer. An architect and artist, Gfrerer works on site. Starting with sketch-like drawings, he considers possible access points and interventions before altering the space itself. Rem­­nants, debris, and found objects then become materials for temporary sculptural constructions that shift the psychology of their surroundings and open up new conceptual spaces. By transforming existing contexts into new objects and situations, he questions obvious, normative function and calls for heightened sensitivity to one's immediate environment.

Web site www.km-k.at

Claudia Märzendorfer, Motorset.
Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts: Alex Da Corte
Through mid-January 2017
Alex Da Corte, Lightning
(detail)Heir to 1960s Pop art and '80s appropriation, Da Corte combines the seduction of retail display with cinematic narrative, personal memory, and other artists' work in vibrant installations that plumb the ecstasies and anxieties of desire. Ravishing and a bit terrifying, his neon-bright, acid-hued work merges the languages of abstraction and modern design with banal, off-brand items, ranging from shampoo and soda bottles to tchotchkes and household cleaning supplies. Organized with a rigorous formal logic, these mash-ups mine domestic products-objects that Da Corte "doesn't understand or doesn't like," found in supermarkets, flea markets, and dollar stores-for unexpected visual appeal as well as emotional and libidinous impact. "Free Roses," his first museum survey, features a selection of works made over the last 10 years, as well as a sprawling new ensemble that continues a serialized evocation of Rimbaud's angst-ridden A Season in Hell.

Web site www.massmoca.org

Alex Da Corte, Lightning (detail)
MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Edgar Arceneaux
Through January 8, 2017
Edgar Arceneaux,
The Library of Black Lies (detail) Working in installation, sculpture, drawing, photography, and video, Arceneaux uses a wide range of sources-American history, astronomy, science fiction, architecture, music, and movies-to investigate historical patterns (both erasures and connections) and the fleeting present. For him, all modes of inquiry and systems of knowledge are contingent: there is no singular history, only overlapping fragments of histories. "Written in Smoke and Fire" explores these themes in depth with three major, interlocking projects. A Book and a Medal (2014), inspired in part by the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., connects 1960s history with the landscape of contemporary, post-industrial American cities. The Library of Black Lies (2016) constructs a labyrinthine, Borgesian repository to house "variations" on important books, including volumes by prominent African American thinkers. And Until, Until, Until (2016) re-envisions one of the most racially charged performances in recent memory, what Arcenaux calls the "Twilight Zone" chain of events that led Broadway legend Ben Vereen to perform in blackface at Ronald Reagan's 1981 inaugural gala. Televised nationally in a truncated version that omitted a script-flipping second act, what Vereen intended as a tribute to pioneering entertainer Bert Williams, a black artist forced to don blackface on stage, and a pointed message aimed at Republican stalwarts derailed his career for decades. Such jarring dissonances and the consequences of partial knowledge and incomplete understanding lie at the heart of Arceneaux's critique of epistomology.

Web site http://web.mit.edu/lvac


Edgar Arceneaux, The Library of Black Lies (detail).
Moderna Museet, Stockholm: Thomas Schütte
Through January 15, 2017
Thomas Schütte, With Tears
in My EarsSchütte's installations, sculptures, architectural models, paintings, and drawings challenge the fundamental premises of contemporary life, joining different modes of visual expression while creating contradictory and illusory worlds, without ever losing sight of the sociopolitical status quo. His radically simplified and exaggerated architectural models are as whimsical as children's forts at first glance, indulging in the same escapist impulse, but as the creations of someone older and wiser, they replace fantasy with a profoundly skeptical and pessimistic approach to (withdrawal from) the world. His emotionally potent deformations of figural sculpture, including the "Frauen," "Zombies," and "United Enemies," take a different tack, exploring isolation, vulnerability, and the strains of relationships (both individual and global) with bitter humor. The works in this exhibition, named for the "United Enemies," justify Schütte's self-characterization as a seismograph registering the world's social and cultural tremors.

Web site www.modernamuseet.se

Thomas Schütte, With Tears in My Ears.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit: Sanford Biggers & Matthew Angelo Harrison
Through January 1, 2017
Sanford Biggers,
Shatter (production still) Working across disciplines and cultures, Biggers refuses to impose hierarchical order "on chronology, references, or media." His sculptures, videos, music, and photography, which fuse meditation and improvisation to "broaden and complicate our read on American history," incorporate icons and rites ranging from Buddhist mandalas and slave quilts to hip hop and Americana, from African spirituality and Indo-European Vodun to Afrofuturism. A savvy syncretism allows him to make seamless, poetically resonant sense of antithetical symbols and legacies: lynchings meet Buddhist enlightenment and the tradition of American landscape painting, while the grin of the Cheshire cat morphs into the caricatured make-up of a blackface minstrel. For "Subjective Cosmology," he has created an immersive, multimedia experience that reimagines the MOCAD space as an unseen world made visible, an alternate reality in which parallel histories change the present and the course of the future. The installation also serves as a backdrop for a new series of Moon Medicin performances in which Biggers collaborates with a rotating cast of Detroit-based musicians, designers, and performance artists, as well as a new version of his Laocoön, a 30-foot colossus in the guise of Fat Albert, unheeded prophet and fallen father figure.

In his late teens, Harrison fell under the spell of Nelson Goodman, particularly The Structure of Appearance and its concept of irrealism-the simultaneous existence of various realities within one another. The construction of systems and the possible relativity of the world continue to drive his work, which uses the performative aspects of manufacturing and the latent potential in unfinished objects to explore racial politics in ingeniously subtle ways. "Detroit City/Detroit Affinities" features a series of homemade 3D printers (using DIY software) built from low-tech parts that combine a Minimalist aesthetic with the industrial look of open-source hardware. Over the course of the show, they will be replicating traditional African masks in clay, an unusual choice of material that draws together opposing outlooks and mindsets. A similar tension between authentic and inauthentic, repetition and difference, organic and inorganic also characterizes Harrison's highly polished, transparent acrylic boxes enclosing the bones of African animals, works that pick apart the fetishization of perfection, the hand of the artist, and the role of tools, as well as the tropes of exoticism and display.

Web site www.mocadetroit.org

Sanford Biggers, Shatter (production still).
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: Doug Aitken
Through January 15, 2017
Doug Aitken, Station to Station
(Volume) For more than 20 years, Aitken's multichannel video installations, sculptures, earthworks, photographs, publications, happenings, and architectural works have explored the nature and structure of our ever-mobile, ever-changing, image-based culture. In an effort to document the relentless entropy that defines almost every aspect of 21st-century existence, he has reimagined the nature of the artwork and our involvement with it. His interests are likewise far-ranging-environmental degradation, invasive technological mediation, and the incursion of commerce into every sphere of life-though they all involve time and its effects, both physically observable and perceptually intuited. His first survey exhibition features seven major video installations, in addition to sculptures, collections, and documentation of site-specific architectural projects. Conceived as a hybrid landscape suspended between city, broadcasting machine, and labyrinth, "Electric Earth" follows the logic of Station to Station, Aitkin's nomadic cultural incubator, cross-continental happening, and earthwork, embracing a collaborative spirit that moves across disciplines and beyond walls. In conjunction with "Electric Earth," MOCA LA is co-presenting Underwater Pavilions, Aitken's new installation on Catalina Island. Floating five, 10, and 50 feet beneath the surface of the ocean, the three geometric sculptures-alternately reflective and craggy (to provide habitat)-are open to intrepid swimmers, snorkelers, and scuba-divers through the winter. Designed as a kaleidoscopic observatory for explorers (and embedded cameras), these dynamic lenses posit perpetual motion and change as a corrective to the grand static gestures that continue to characterize many earthworks.

Web site www.moca.org

Doug Aitken, Station to Station (Volume).
Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main: Fiona Tan
Through January 15, 2017
Fiona
Tan, Ghost Dwellings I–III Tan, who is best known for her intensely human films and photo­graphs, explores history, time, memory, and our idea of life in the present. Exploring the contested territory of representation and identity, she examines how we represent ourselves and the mechanisms that determine how we interpret the representation of others. In recent years, her work has increasingly taken on a spatial aspect, expanding from plane to environment. In "The Geography of Time," she plunges viewers into an oppressive scenario, reminiscent of placeless storage spaces or secretive freeport warehouses. Video projections, audio works, and sculptural installations combine in a concentrated reflection on the individual in a globalized world coming apart at the seams. Evoking the consequences of ignoring economic, ecological, and political meltdown, she plants the seeds of destruction in a self-deluding idyllic paradise.

Web site www.mmk-frankfurt.de

Fiona Tan, Ghost Dwellings I–III
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas: Michael Dean
Through February 5, 2017
Michael Dean, installation
view of Sic Glyphs. Whether small, portable objects or large, looming slabs, Dean's concrete forms possess an overwhelming tactile appeal, inviting us to first "touch with the eyes, and then allow ourselves to touch with the hand." But touch isn't the only sense at work here: language-its sound, formation in the mouth, and associative power-also comes into play. Cast in flexible plastic bags or from their surrounding exhibition spaces, Dean's sculptures sometimes double as letters of the alphabet, spelling out their titles in abstracted typography or working in tandem with his self-published books filled with gibberish printed in handmade pictograms. Heavy, brittle forms that change appearance over time as they dry and pick up marks from use, some are designed as seats and resting places; others operate as projection screens; and some invade a building's structural fabric. These abstract, industrial objects, however, exude an extraordinary humanity: slightly hunched, slumped, or leaning, they turn the impersonal into the personal, eliciting sympathy and compassion. For his first U.S. museum exhibition, Dean has created a series of new works in response to the unique environs of the Nasher.

Web site www.nashersculpturecenter.org

Michael Dean, installation view of "Sic Glyphs."
Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, U.K.: Marguerite Humeau & Otobong Nkanga
Through June 26, 2017
Marguerite Humeau, installation
view of FOXP2 A self-described "Indiana Jones in Google times," Humeau digs into the myths, speculations, fantasies, and occasional truths grounding our construction of the world. Epic quests through time and space, her installations weave fact and fiction into physical, sensory experiences that reanimate voices from long-extinct creatures and distant eras. The works in "FOXP2," named for the genetic mutation that allowed ancestral humans to develop language, re-enact the origins of life and the development of consciousness in a far-from-hospitable atmosphere. In addition to the title work-a sound installation that takes the form of a "choir" of 108 billion voices-the show features a "biological showroom" of elephants engaged in an elaborate mourning ritual and projects a future unmarred by human presence. Nkanga, an Antwerp-based, Nigerian artist and recipient of the 2015 Yanghyun Prize, is another explorer, investigating the complex layers of human and natural traces left in objects and landscapes. Her tapestries, performances, drawings, and installations trace all kinds of historical timelines, weaving together the cultural value of land, the socio­political value of natural resources, architecture, and the dynamic state of remembrance. She delves into broad historic contexts as well as contemporary realities to represent and alter ideas of geography, home, and displacement. The crucial element connecting these concepts is memory: "Memory is not only an autobiographical state, but also an important notion in relation to objects that leave traces." For her, intangible elements such as smell are as important as objects in the narration of identity, opening multi-dimensional perspectives on events, spaces, and experiences that constitute past and present. 

Web site www.nottinghamcontemporary.org

Marguerite Humeau, installation view of "FOXP2."
Palazzo Reale, Milan: Arnaldo Pomodoro
Through February 5, 2017
Arnaldo Pomodoro, The Pietrarubbia
Group: il fondamento, l'uso, il rapporto For more than half a century, Pomo­doro has been producing visionary, penetrating sculptures that capture the intimacies, tensions, and tenuous joys of modern life while giving form to post-apocalyptic concerns. A hermetic, yet deeply resonant, personalized symbolism infuses all of his work, from tightly compressed jewel-like reliefs to geometrizing sculptures and large-scale public works, to the monumental Ingresso nel labirinto, which he began in 1995. Reinforced by the resonance of bronze, these works create an epic mythology of the postwar world in which irregular marks, piercings, and tearings evoke ancient writing and deeply sedimented memory. In celebration of Pomodoro's 90th birthday, the city of Milan has mounted a multi-venue retrospective with its centerpiece in the Palazzo Reale's Sala delle Cariatidi-30 sculptures created between 1995 and the present and selected by the artist. Outside, the Piazzetta Reale hosts The Pietrarubbia Group in its entirety for the first time. An environmental work in progress, its six elements pay idealized tribute to Pomo­­doro's hometown as both physical and imaginary place. Additional works are installed at the Triennale di Milano, the Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro, the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, and around the city's public spaces. In addition to entering the actual labyrinth in the basement of the former Riva Calzoni building (via Solari 35), visitors can explore a multisensory VR version (Palazzo Reale) that seeks to collapse time and space.

Web site www.palazzorealemilano.it

Arnaldo Pomodoro, The Pietrarubbia Group: il fondamento, l'uso, il rapporto.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco: Bruce Conner
Through January 22, 2017
Bruce Conner, CHILD Realist, Surrealist, artist, anti-artist, spiritual and profane-Conner was all of these things and more, most notably an inveterate hater of labels. An early practitioner of found-object assemblage and a pioneer of experimental film, he worked across sculpture, photography, conceptualism, and painting, constantly challenging limitations of medium, genre, and style. Both of and ahead of its time, his work continues to influence artists today with the fluidity of its rule-breaking and the pointedness of its subject matter-from the excesses of consumer culture to the dread of apocalypse and psychological meltdown. "It's All True," his first comprehensive retrospective, embraces his deliberately obfuscating contradictions while attempting to slot a most unruly artist into the postwar canon. More than 250 objects, spanning his 50-year career, demonstrate an adept ability to transform the language and detritus of a media-dominated culture into horrifyingly sensitive interpretations of devastation hiding behind abundance. In addition to the early assemblages made from discarded furniture and salvaged building materials, highlights include the "Black Wax Sculptures," which Conner described as works "that represent protest, horror, disgust, anger, revulsion." Though distinct from the assemblages, these visceral combinations of wax forms and found objects share the same signature material-women's nylons. Stretched into frayed webs, the fabric binds and shrouds like a grave cloth, casting a mist of ancient mystery over very contemporary concerns. The eerie pall is nowhere clearer than in CHILD (1960), an exquisitely grotesque and compulsively gut-wrenching vision of the gas chamber that confronts death with an almost medieval sense of gallows humor.

Web site www.sfmoma.org

Bruce Conner, CHILD
SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York: Cosima von Bonin & Aki Sasamoto
Through January 2, 2017
Aki
Sasamoto, installation view of Delicate
Cyclevon Bonin epitomizes the protean media- and role-shifting branch of contemporary artistic practice. Her conceptual-feminist work moves across sculpture, installation, performance, photography, video, and painting, just as von Bonin herself transforms from artist to curator, to DJ, to raconteur, to collaborator. Her hybridized approach finds inspiration in a wide range of sources, including pop culture, fashion, and electronic music, as she tackles ideas of play and indoctrination, structure and improvisation, cultural and gender representations, and identity and self-reflection. Bringing to light a submerged metaphor in her work, "Who's Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea?" explores her fascination with watery mutabiilty and the contradictions at the boundary where mysterious, unfathomable depths meet a surface world of sun-crazed vacationers. Working at the intersection of performance and sculpture, Sasamoto creates object scenarios out of narratives and actions. "Delicate Cycle," her first solo show in a U.S. museum, features a new body of work inspired by the dung beetle, which resourcefully rolls its home and food into one mobile unit. Sculptural constructions with similar potential-everything from artist-modified washers and dryers to mobile housing cells-roll through the exhibition. Once activated by Sasamoto, they become rotating sites that explore neuroses around cleanliness and filth (all of her performances are sold out). A new video and sculptures that touch on "base" elements and repression round out this most unusual approach to contemporary life.

Web site www.sculpture-center.org

Aki Sasamoto, installation view of "Delicate Cycle."
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco: Tom Sachs
Through January 15, 2017
Tom Sachs, Daisu In Space Program: Europa, Sachs continues his exploration of what it means to be a self-designated "handy­­man." Inspired by the (now grounded) American fascination with space travel, this third mission (after a 2007 trip to the moon and a 2012 voyage to Mars) transforms the YBCA into an experiential extraterrestrial odyssey. Elaborate spacecraft, exploratory vehicles, mission control launch platforms, a mobile quarantine facility, and scientific equipment are all realized in painstaking detail, assembled from nothing more than foamcore, hot glue, plywood, and salvaged materials. In preparation for the mission, Sachs and his on-site crew engineered everything necessary for survival and exploration-from food delivery to waste disposal to tea ceremony utensils (continuing his associative play with parallels between NASA's cutting-edge engineering and chanoyu's understated artistry, both of which rely on highly ritualized procedure). With Europa, Sachs queries mortality, consumerism, and the limits of American exceptionalism. On closing weekend, astronauts will offer demonstrations, and Sachs will host a tea ceremony. Bridging contradiction, linking past and future, tradition and innovation, inner and outer vision, this disorienting and somehow sublime synthesis reveals how the most ordinary gestures and objects can aspire to the level of art.

Web site www.ybca.org

Tom Sachs, Daisu.

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