International Sculpture Center
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October 2016
Vol. 35 No. 8

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.

Belvedere/Winterpalais, Vienna: Sterling Ruby
Through October 26, 2016
Ruby’s work alternates between fluid and static, minimal and expressionistic, pristine and defaced. Using a range of media, including video, collage, ceramic, and fiber, he explores the formal qualities of repression and containment. His first European survey focuses on works that undermine military imperialism and rhetoric, including a selection of provocative soft sculptures crafted from red, white, and blue fabric that resemble vampiric maws of monumental proportion and a new series of tapestries that drape the former residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663– 1736), general of the Imperial Army and one of the most successful commanders in modern European history, in faux-Baroque irony. Immersed in formal codes and gestures that signal transgression and transference—phenomena with social and psychological, physical and emotional dimensions—these disturbing and seductive works threaten to overwhelm everything within reach. Subtle or blatant critiques of oppressive power structures, Ruby’s powerful forms also subsume pernicious dichotomies into singular, malleable entities that lock individual impulse and mechanized control, Western domination and decline, and liberation and repression into a stalemated embrace.

Web site www.belvedere.at


Sterling Ruby, Figures.
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh: Alison Knowles
Through October 24, 2016
A visual artist and poet, Knowles has spent the last five decades expanding definitions of art with performative works and participatory installations. Taking ordinary things such as books, beans, shoes, and strings as idiosyncratic points of departure, she invites us to share in her intimate way of seeing the world. This exhibition—the first museum show to consider the breadth of her work across media—features key pieces from the 1960s to the present, including interactive sculptures, sound-making objects, works on paper, silk, and canvas, and a cabinet of Knowles’s personal, collected curiosities. Viewers can share in the artist’s experience through unusual tactile works such as Bean Garden (1971/2016), in which footsteps across dry beans create a continually changing soundtrack, and The Boat Book (2014–15), which gives clever form to the idea of an immersive reading experience.

Web site www.cmoa.org

Alison Knowles, Book in a Shirt.

Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh: Damián Ortega
Through October 23, 2016
Trained as a political cartoonist, Ortega uses ironic humor to undermine preconceived ideas about art while addressing questions of social organization, environmentalism, post-industrialization, and urban dev­­elopment. His acerbic sculptures, photographs, and action pieces, which often involve commonplace objects, regard the utopian forms of Modernism with a skeptical eye and make their own irreverent suggestions for change. The works in this exhibition—predominantly made of clay—explore the sculptural agency of nature and the tools of civilization, examining how landscapes have formed themselves, as well as how we have shaped them to serve our own ends. As always, these works explode the myth of a unified, static whole—whether a body, a society, an economy, or a theory of coherent progress. In a major new sculpture, a bewildering array of clay tools (from arrowheads to mobile phones) celebrates the skill that we believe sets us apart from other animals while chronicling our exploitation of the natural world.

Web site www.fruitmarket.co.uk

Damián Ortega, Abrasive Objects.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami: Renaud Jerez
Through October 30, 2016
Part of an emerging generation of artists, Berlin-based Jerez works across disciplines, but with a concentration on sculpture. Made of bandages, fabric, and light industrial materials, his hauntingly apocalyptic and abjectly humorous anthropomorphic forms imagine a monstrous futuristic state of humanity, seemingly starved by an all-consuming technology. Intricate and violent, these skeletal beings (part vampire and part mummy) wander through the ruins of destruction and decay, masters and victims both.

Web site www.icamiami.org

Renaud Jerez, view of installation at ICA Miami.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami: Laura Lima
Through October 30, 2016
“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 familiar entities—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. Her new installation, The Inverse, places visitors at the center of a complex dance. An enormous length of braided rope (almost a mile in length) transforms the rigid architecture of the ICA’s Atrium Gallery into a massive tangled web, weaving through mezzanines, wrapping around columns, and snaking across the floor. All this chaotic energy, however, is rationally channeled, feeding into and merging with a female body, both an endpoint and a generator capable of forming something out of nothing—just like the creative process.

Web site www.icamiami.org

Laura Lima, The Inverse.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Cornelia Parker
Through October 31, 2016
Parker’s work observes the principle that conservation of matter dictates that nothing is ever destroyed, merely transformed into something else. But what does it become? Is there meaning in the transformation? Her compelling treatments of familiar, everyday objects explore the nature of matter, test physical properties, and play on meaning and value. Using objects loaded with history and associations—from a garden shed and its contents to the remnants of segregated churches destroyed by acts of man and god, to a criminal’s sawed-off shotgun—she explodes, crushes, cuts, and stretches them until they enter a realm somewhere between states of being. Simultaneously authentic and illusory, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn), her new installation on the roof of the Met, continues the psychological emphasis of her recent works. Inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper and by two icons of American architecture—the classic red barn and the Bates family’s sinister mansion from Hitchcock’s Psycho—Parker’s construction brings visitors to the brink of a precipice, poised between innocent domesticity and knowing horror.

Web site www.metmuseum.org


Cornelia Parker, Transitional Object (PyschoBarn).
La Petite Escalère, Saint-Laurent-de-Gosse, France: Asier Mendizabal
Through November 1, 2016
For Mendizabal, who grew up in the “highly politicized context” of a Basque village made famous by a 1986 assassination, history transcends the past to forge intimate connections with the present. His enigmatic works twist ideologies, art history, and anecdotal evidence into contemporary forms that fuse political imagery and mundane materials, referring to everything from Karl Marx to Basque encyclopedias. Inspired by The Clash, he likes to abuse symbols, mocking through feigned approval. His work isolates charged icons from the cultures they’re designed to construct and purvey while retooling them into building blocks of transformed individual identities—a strategy not without risk. One angry viewer interpreted an installation of red carpet pentagrams—intended as an instigator and indictment of paranoia—as a field of red berets and accused Mendizabal of trafficking in 19th-century Basque nationalism. Deliberate ambiguity cannot help but beget such reactions— particularly from minds attracted to singular, familiar definitions—indeed, critics sharing a similar mindset like to tell Mendizabal, who “insists” on calling himself a sculptor, that “sculpture” isn’t really a suitable word for his brand of conceptualism.

Web site lpe-jardin.org

Asier Mendizabal, La chaine et la trame (Urritza).
Studio Museum Harlem, New York: Richard Hunt
Through October 30, 2016
For more than 50 years, Hunt has used bronze, steel, aluminum, and copper to explore lyrical form, the sublime possibilities of abstraction, and the reconciliation of the organic and the industrial. Though he is best known for public commissions, “Framed and Extended” explores three less familiar, but integral aspects of his work—printmaking, small-scale sculpture, and wall sculpture. In fact, his monumental metal sculptures developed from these smaller objects made of welded scrap materials (he once said, “What I do is just what you see in any body shop”). The selection of prints highlights his cultivation of linear gesture and movement across media, while the sculptures demonstrate his ongoing commitment to technical experimentation and his unique ability to infuse ideal, abstract form with the immediacy, vitality, and relevance of real-life concerns and aspects of the black experience in America.

Web site www.studiomuseum.org

Richard Hunt, Hybrid Form #3.
Versailles, Paris: Olafur Eliasson
Through October 30, 2016
Eliasson’s complex investigations at the intersection of human perception and natural phenomena combine stunning visual pyrotechnics, conceptual sophistication, and scientific curiosity. From mirror passageways to waterfalls and indoor rainbows, these works conjure alluring, illusory spaces that investigate meteorological conditions, optical cognition, and the passage of time while radically shifting place and consciousness as we know them. Demanding singular, intense attention, at their best, his joyously atmospheric “devices for evaluating the experience of reality” add up to more than sensationalized stagecraft. His suitably audacious project in the gardens of Versailles includes an enchanted fog that dissolves perceptual and behavioral norms into sheer anarchic folly and an “incredibly high” fountain that taps into the “comic Baroque.” The palace, which Eliasson roamed in the dark, opening secret doors and exploring hidden passageways, hosts a number of almost invisible installations. But it’s the fountain that captures the imagination, bringing to life Le Notre’s unrealized vision and making, as Eliasson says, “the impossible possible to make dreams come true.”

Web site en.chateauversailles.fr

Olafur Eliasson, Glacial rock flour garden.
Wanås, Knislinge, Sweden: Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg
Through November 6, 2016
Since 2002, Djurberg has honed a distinctive, compulsive style of video animation, using the pliability of clay to investigate the dark recesses of the mind. Set to music by her partner and collaborator Hans Berg, her handcrafted tales cast an unblinking eye on the vicissitudes of revenge, lust, submission, and gluttony. In Djurberg’s hands, innocent claymation becomes a medium for wry allegories of human behavior and social taboo that blur the sculptural and the cinematic into nightmarish versions of reality. The new works at Wanås include the duo’s first-ever outdoor project, a hybridized vision in which their animated universe also inhabits the physical world—in this case, a beech forest. A realm located not far from Carroll’s Wonderland, In Dreams mimics and warps its natural surroundings, conjuring an alien nature of changed proportions, color, and sound—imagine pink acorns wearing ruffled underpants and a bird in heavy make-up smoking out of its rear end. In this world between sleep and wakefulness, nonsense channels imagination, play, and rebellion against the confines of reason.

Web site www.wanas.se

Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, In Dreams.

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