International Sculpture Center
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June 2016
Vol. 35 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.

Fabric Workshop & Museum, Philadelphia: Janine Antoni
Through July 31, 2016
Janine Antoni with Anna Halprin Paper Dance For more than two decades, Antoni has pushed the limits of material possibilities. Whether rendered in chocolate, lard, lipstick, or hemp, her sculptures embody the accumulated traces left behind by her performative processes—gnawing, hair slinging, and eyelash batting. These unorthodox methods allow her to emphasize the meaning inherent in making, a proposition not unrelated to her intense exploration of physicality. Regardless of material or style, Antoni’s work always asks what it means to have, and be, a body, particularly a female body. “Ally,” which she calls a retrospective told through dance, features four new performance-based works (repeated monthly and weekly) created in collaboration with choreographer Stephen Petronio and movement artist Anna Halprin. Combined with installations, videos, and sculptures, these enactments and reenactments connect artist, performer, and viewer, eliding distinct moments of time, action, and interpretation.

Web site www.fabricworkshopandmuseum.org

Janine Antoni with Anna Halprin, Paper Dance.
HangarBicocca, Milan: Carsten Höller
Through July 31, 2016
Carsten Holler Half Clock Höller considers his work as a series of experiments and viewers as his subjects, upending assumptions about perception, sensory experience, balance, and time. Ranging from the purely conceptual to the elaborately architectural, his installations challenge human behavior, question logic, and offer altered states of mind and body. Not content to let viewers look on from the sidelines, he invites active physical participation in his constructions, which include slides, spatial inversions, flying machines, and confounding passages. His new exhibition, “Doubt,” offers a psychological riposte to “Decision,” last year’s ambitious Hayward Gallery show, second-guessing choices and undermining confidence. For Höller, certainty never endures, life requires endless negotiations with unfamiliar terrain, and any decision we make lies “somewhere between delight and madness.”

Web site www.hangarbicocca.org

Carsten Höller, Half Clock.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston: Geoffrey Farmer
Through July 31, 2016
Geoffrey Farmer Boneyard Farmer’s complex, multi-part installations activate freeform narratives drawn from social history, popular culture, art history, and literature, embracing change and evolution in real time and rendering visible the processes of their construction. Airliner Open Studio, for instance, focused on a full-scale aircraft cabin, complete with seats, overhead storage, emergency lighting, and cabin windows, transforming real and fabricated components into an environment-as-stage-set that served as a rehearsal space and the starting point for performances. He is equally well known, however, for his large-scale paper works—room-size arrangements composed of hundreds of small sculptures made from cut-out photographs, fabrics, and various supports. This show features a survey of these strange collages, including recent figural processions that cross-breed high art and vernacular imagery. Movement, sound, animation, puppetry, and a mismatched cavalcade of highly choreographed art historical icons follow a deliberately chaotic route through the course of world history.

Web site www.icaboston.org

Geoffrey Farmer, Boneyard.
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf Düsseldorf: Rita McBride
Through June 26, 2016
Rita McBride Arena McBride began her investigations into architecture and design in the mid-’80s, often focusing on the unacknowledged elements of buildings. What was once a quirky subject has since gained in popularity to become a key direction in contemporary sculpture. The installations in this survey share importance with the process and situations from which they emerge, emphasizing publicness, community, and urban systems that organize movement, as well as interactions between individual and collective. Following an interdisciplinary approach, McBride frequently combines her works with performances, and here, her large-scale Arena (1997) hosts a range of public programs.

Web site www.kunsthalle-duesseldorf.de

Rita McBride, Arena.
Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria: Theaster Gates
Through June 26, 2016
Theaster Gates Herbert Read and All Things Freed Gates, whose practice embraces performance, installation, and urban interventions, has devoted his career to the architectural and social rejuvenation of his South Chicago neighborhood. The campaign began in 2006, when he adopted an abandoned house on S. Dorchester Avenue as his home and studio, fixing it up with recycled and repurposed materials. His efforts, reinforced by a team of local collaborators, then expanded to other nearby buildings, reinvented as alternative cultural spaces and aesthetic expressions, and elaborate architectural displacements between Chicago and cities around the world. More than simple rehabs, these complex projects resonate with lived process and poetic exchange, symbolically mending one neglected cultural history with another. This show features large-scale objects—or more accurately, assemblages of resonant artifacts—that speak not only for themselves, but also for social realities, using powerful spatial presence to catalyze socio-political energy.

Web site www.kunsthaus-bregenz.at


Herbert Read and All Things Freed, Theaster Gates.
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth: Thomas Demand
Through July 27, 2016
Thomas Demand Backyard Demand reconstitutes reality through artifice, describing an authentic world of rigorous fakery. For more than two decades, he has built intricate, life-size models from colored construction paper and cardboard that faithfully replicate specific architectural spaces and natural settings. These tableaux, far from ends in themselves, serve merely as another kind of model—raw materials for photographs. The resulting images depict depopulated, almost shadowless, disturbingly uniform rooms and places. As unreal as they seem, these images complete a circuit that begins with pre-existing photographs of actual sites, frequently marked by age and the elements, then cycles through an idealizing sculptural mediation that freezes time while removing all traces of use, to end in photographic preservation of a false utopian perfection. For the models themselves, the equilibrium is a mirage—Demand abandons them to natural decay, a destruction that he calls liberating.  

Web site www.themodern.org


Thomas Demand, Backyard.
Museum of Old & New Art, Hobart, Australia: Mathieu Briand
Through May 16, 2016
Mathieu Briand Et In Libertalia Ego In 2008, Briand found himself on a small island off the coast of Madagascar, where he started a collaborative project that invited other artists to create works in situ or send instructions for him to do so. Et In Libertalia Ego (the title echoes the truthful irony of Poussin’s Et in Arcadia Ego) attempts to re-create Libertalia, the pirate utopia described in A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (1724), which may have been written by Daniel Defoe, the free-thinking, Nonconformist author of Robinson Crusoe. Like Crusoe, Briand soon found that he was not alone and that he shared “his” island with a Malagasy family that had lived there for generations. With the family’s bemused cooperation (they were convinced that the artists practiced black magic), he set out to create a paradise for art, far away from the economic constraints and demands of Western society, a place to question the essence of making, explore the relationship between sacred and profane, and retrace lost connections between art and magic.

Web site mona.net.au

Mathieu Briand, Et In Libertalia Ego.
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas: Mai-Thu Perret
Through July 17, 2016
Mai-Thu Perret view of nasher installationFor the last 16 years, Perret has been developing The Crystal Frontier, an ongoing project composed of real and imagined diary fragments, letters, and found texts. The narrative follows a group of disillusioned women who opt out of Western society, start an art commune, and forge new relations with work, nature, and themselves in the desert of New Mexico. Part satirical, part optimistic, Perret’s ever-expanding body of work plays with 20th-century avant-garde utopian visions, reaching beyond the text to include various objects that she describes as “hypothetical products” of her women’s commune. Parodying Modernism’s lofty ideals, these works use papier-mâché, ceramic, textiles, and light to improvise connections between consumer, decorative, and autonomous objects. In this new iteration, Perret’s vision draws inspiration from developments in the secular Kurdish community in Rojava, Syria, an almost unimaginable haven of democracy and female leadership.

Web site www.nashersculpturecenter.org

Mai-Thu, view of Nasher installation.
The Noguchi Museum, Long Island City, NY: Tom Sachs
Through July 24, 2016
Tom Sachs Tea Ceremony At once highly irreverent and deeply respectful, Sachs’s take on chanoyu (the traditional Japanese tea ceremony) blends seat-of-the-pants improvisation with consummate craftsmanship. A spin-off from Space Program: Mars (2012), Tea Ceremony explores unexpected parallels between NASA’s cutting-edge engineering and chanoyu’s understated artistry—both rely on highly ritualized procedures. Sachs and his studio designed and fabricated all of the components in this site-specific tea house and garden, down to the smallest utensil, and this retooling of his “handyman” approach forms the bridge across contradiction, linking past and future, tradition and innovation, inner and outer vision. The result is a disorienting and somehow sublime synthesis in which the search for meaning can stretch to the limits of the cosmos while delving into the universe within. For Sachs, thriving, even playing, is the ultimate objective of life—like practitioners of the tea ceremony, he understands how the most ordinary gestures and objects can aspire to the level of art.

Web site www.noguchi.org

Tom Sachs, Tea Ceremony.
Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK: Simon Starling
Through June 26, 2016
Simon Starling La Source Starling, who won the 2005 Turner Prize, is fascinated with process—both physical and intellectual. While playfully exploring the links that connect craft, material, and technique, his work also absorbs the contexts and social nuances of a locale or object, with a single piece or operation revealing countless contradictions. Part utopian visionary and part critic, he describes his work as “the physical manifestation of a thought process.” Exposing hidden histories and relationships while morphing one object or substance into another, his sculptures, installations, and pilgrimage-like journeys draw out ideas about nature, technology, and economics. This show, which features a new commission and several major projects, showcases the full range of his interests: sculptures, photographs, films, and installations interrogate the art and design canon, scientific discovery, and global economic and environmental concerns, while never losing sight of the magical and transformative potential of art.

Web site www.nottinghamcontemporary.org


Simon Starling, La Source.
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA: Anila Quayyum Agha
Through July 10, 2016
Anila Quayyum Agha Intersections Using incredibly simple elements, including cut paper, dangling threads and needles, and light, Agha transforms bare rooms into visually striking, liminal spaces of great emotional intensity. Intersections, the installation that won the Public Vote Grand Prize and tied for the Juried Grand Prize at the 2014 ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, conjures an awe-inspiring, transcendent environment from nothing more than a single light bulb and a five-foot cube of laser-cut wood. Inspired by Agha’s formative years in Pakistan, where, as a woman, she was forbidden to worship in mosques, and a 2011 visit to Spain’s Alhambra, a secular complex showcasing the splendor of Islamic ornamentation, the installation replaces exclusion with inclusion, as solid boundaries give way to permeable patterns that welcome free passage, adapting to and embracing individual bodies within their dense silhouettes.

Web site www.pem.org

Simon Starling, La Source.
Pérez Art Museum, Miami: Doris Salcedo
Through July 17, 2016
Doris Salcedo A Flor de Piel Salcedo has a rare ability to give visual form to traumatic loss and suppressed sorrow: a pair of shoes or ordinary chairs, tables, and beds become alternative memorials impregnated with absence. A sculptor of memory and life, poverty and dignity, she has cracked the floor of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, walled up a room of the Castello di Rivoli, filled the “human void” left by the destruction of a building in Istanbul, and commemorated the dead with a “mute prayer” in which silence screams with outrage. This show brings together a full selection of her sculptural work from the past 30 years, demonstrating a remarkable balance of vigorous fieldwork and poetic reinterpretation, individual tragedy and systemic oppression. From the dead-weight monumentality of concrete-filled armoires and chairs to the fragility of silk, earth, living plants, and rose petals, these works (supported by a new film documenting Salcedo’s site-specific interventions) give strength to weakness and testify to the endurance behind erasure.

Web site www.pamm.org

Doris Salcedo, A Flor de Piel.
Studio Museum Harlem, New York: Rodney McMillian
Through June 26, 2016
Rodney McMillian Unititled Refidgerator Deeply attuned to the social systems that shape individual lives, McMillian challenges these forces directly: going large in scale through small actions, altering post-consumer objects to reveal latent ideologies, and exposing the means of building (and maintaining) a vulnerable citizenship. For more than a decade, he has focused on the domain of home as part of a larger project tracing the intersection of race, class, gender, and socioeconomic policy. “Views of Main Street,” the first show to explore this aspect of a complex practice that moves across painting, sculpture, video, and performance, brings together more than 20 key works from 2003 to the present, all using symbols of domesticity to scrutinize the biases inherent in a much-touted myth. From Couch (2012)—a sateen sofa sawed in half and cemented back together that evokes the physical, psychological, and economic distress of communities hit by loan defaults, foreclosures, and unemployment—to Untitled (The Supreme Court Painting) (2004–06)—a work that challenges the language used by government and the media to discuss justice, democracy, and civic rights—McMillian demonstrates how the political has penetrated and deformed the personal, particularly for African Americans. As he says of the “Main Street” ideal: “Whenever I’ve heard that expression, I have never believed it referred to me or other African Americans, regardless of our economic station.” 

Web site www.studiomuseum.org

Rodney McMillian, Unititled (refrigerator).

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