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Jul/Aug 2017
Vol. 36 No. 6

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.

Brooklyn Bridge Park - Brooklyn, New York: Anish Kapoor
Through September 10, 2017
Anish Kapoor, Descension Kapoor's geometric and biomorphic objects seem to come from another world, a realm of almost impossible purity, lightness, and beauty. But there has always been a tension in his work that undermines harmonic perfection: roughness intrudes on refinement; messy internal implications qualify austere voids; and made matter threatens to dissolve into the unmade. Descension, one of his more unusual and viscerally arresting works, harnesses the most evanescent of materials to explore the depths of transformative substance. Set against the linear flow of the East River, this massive, centrifugal funnel of water appears to breach the earth's surface, drilling a vortex of negative space down into the ground. It may be a perceptual trick, achieved with nothing more than black dye, but the sense of wonder is real, if not awe-inspiring. Such a manifestation of the void is perhaps as close as we can come to the liminal, uncanny chasms that, according to the ancient Greeks, formed passageways leading to the infinite and the divine.

Web site www.publicartfund.org


Anish Kapoor, Descension
GEM Museum for Contemporary Art - The Hague: Folkert de Jong
Through August 20, 2017
Folkert de Jong, studio view of Weird Science in progress de Jong takes a bleak view of human life and its prospects. Seemingly on the verge of decomposition, his grotesquely expressive figures resemble the walking dead, their brittle flesh rendered in Styrofoam and polyurethane washed with acidic color. These materials, like the human body itself, are not meant to be eternal; nor are they environmentally friendly. Their toxicity is precisely the point, underscoring the dark themes of violence, greed, and power enacted in his tableaux, which combine ironic references to art history with contemporary concerns. "Weird Science" returns to his earlier investigation into the transitory nature of ideals, focusing on the internecine squabbling that poisoned De Stijl's utopian aspirations (or revealed them for what they were). With besmirched bodies and grimacing faces, effigies of Mondrian, van Doesburg, Oud, and Rietveld (set within a multimedia installation produced in collaboration with the artist collective YAE) pay ambivalent tribute to the group's much-touted revolutionary idealism, while questioning the motivations of art when it dabbles in social engineering. de Jong may seem a strange choice to celebrate the 100th anniversary of De Stijl, but his tendency to corrupt timelessness with decay while revealing the compulsions that drive freedom make him the perfect corrective to Modernism's political naiveté and grandiose theoretical pretensions.

Web site http://www.gem-online.nl



Folkert de Jong, studio view of "Weird Science" in progress
Henie Onstad Kunstsenter - Høvikodden, Norway: Carsten Höller
Through September 10, 2017
Carsten Höller, Two Roaming Beds Höller considers his works as 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 partici - pation in his constructions, which include spatial inversions, flying machines, and confounding passages. Visitors checking into his "Henie Onstad Sanatorium" can float, slide, and fly their way through a series of sculptural treatment regimens, even booking private overnight sessions and accommodation in Two Roaming Beds. Delving into considerations of safety, childhood, love, happiness, and the future, Höller's physical and psychological analysis reveals how certainty never endures, life requires endless negotiations with unfamiliar terrain, and any decisions we make lie "somewhere between delight and madness."

Web site http://hok.no


Carsten Höller, Two Roaming Beds

Institute of Contemporary Art - Boston: Nari Ward
Through September 4, 2017
Nari Ward, Radha LiquorSoul 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. "Sun Splashed," his midcareer survey, features 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. (Six new outdoor commissions are also on view at Socrates Sculpture Park through September 4.) Resuscitating the past in order to excavate the present-its codes, behaviors, stereotypes-Ward replaces accepted certainties and established contexts with unknown, even makeshift possibilities, giving viewers the agency to draw their own conclusions.

Web site http://www.icaboston.org

Nari Ward, Radha LiquorSoul
Kunsthaus Bregenz - Bregenz, Austria: Adrián Villar Rojas
Through August 27, 2017
Adrián Villar Rojas, Rinascimento
(detail) Best known for site-specific, often monumental works in unfired clay, integrated with moss and fruit, sneakers, cutlery, and computer parts, Villar Rojas describes his practice as organic. He builds worlds we have never seen, places we have never been. An idea, channeled via discussions and collaborations, grows into a piece, an exhibition, an inclusive performance. Everything is part of the work, from concept and experiment to production and final deterioration- all of it set in motion by time, which acts as catalyst and dir - ector, staging a drama that moves inevitably toward a radical ending. "Theater of Disappearance," his spectacular new show, traces the full extent of what could be called his primary obsession-the trajectory of human culture. In this surreal and apocalyptic history lesson, origins evolve into questionable apotheosis, as viewers follow the stations of artistic achievement from Lascaux through Piero and Michelangelo to Picasso. Within this time-lapse chronicle, rare objects in metamorphosis give way to blind alleys, both spatial and ideological. An exploration of memory, Villar Rojas's anti-museum becomes a recording device that displays the experience of making the "remains of art."

Web site http://www.kunsthaus-bregenz.at


Adrián Villar Rojas, Rinascimento (detail)
Kunsthaus Graz - Graz, Austria: Erwin Wurm
Through August 20, 2017
Erwin Wurm, installation view of Footballsize clump of clay on a light blue car roof Every time Wurm produces a sculpture from a real object-cars, potatoes, cucumbers, pieces of clothing- he creates something strange and wonderful. Embracing the absurd, his work invites us to consider different possibilities for the ordinary and familiar. Experiments in performance, photography, installation, drawing, video, and text add another dimension, pushing the boundaries of sculpture by investigating time, mass, and material form. An artist so devoted to notions of rule-breaking, individuality, and personal freedom would bridle at the idea of a retrospective, and so Wurm gives us "Football-size clump of clay on a light blue car roof." The next step in his radically expanded notion of sculpture, the show features a group of new works that connect the performative, the participatory, and the sculptural with each other and with their surroundings-most disconcertingly in the form of "word sculptures." As always, Wurm finds a pervasive weirdness lurking just beneath the surface of accepted conventions, or in this case, on top of the ped - estal, where he has placed speaking protagonists. These living sculptures address each viewer directly, describing possible scenarios for the show's title in order to implant a mental image that takes shape as a virtual, and unique, "one-minute sculpture" existing only in the individual imagination.

Web site http://www.museum-joanneum.at/de/kunsthaus


Erwin Wurm, installation view of "Footballsize clump of clay on a light blue car roof".
Museum of Contemporary Art - Chicago: Tania Pérez Córdova
Through August 20, 2017
Tania Pérez Córdova, Person
A / Person B In Pérez Córdova's work, forms become memories, objects grow into experiences, and sculptures turn into events. She inscribes her seemingly static pieces with hints of an active life, teasing out moments in implied social and economic relationships. Odd juxtapositions embrace the ordinary world of daily transactions with other people and systems, though we only see a part. A single gold earring hangs from a bronze cast, an active credit card slots into a wood-fired clay platter, and a SIM card embedded in a terra-cotta slab signals missed calls. Each work embodies a network of negotiations between the artist and third parties-the woman left with only one earring, the credit card user, the bank, and the whole credit system. Stand-ins for each and every one of us, and our place in digital communication, these "contemporary relics," act as clues to the everyday lives of others and to our culture as a whole- everyone tied into, and bound together by, far-reaching impersonal mechanisms that mold the personal and generate community.

Web site http://www.mcachicago.org

Tania Pérez Córdova, Person A / Person B
National Gallery of Art - Washington, DC: Theaster Gates
Through September 4, 2017
Theaster Gates, installation view of The Minor Arts Gates made his reputation with the artistic and social rejuvenation of his South Chicago neighborhood. Architectural displacements between Chicago and cities around the world reinforced his efforts, symbolically mending one damaged cultural history with another. An interventionist and activist, he never seemed to fit the contemporary art marketplace, so it wasn't surprising when he hinted that he might leave art to focus on "practicing life." He didn't. Now, backed by two blue-chip galleries, he seems to be gaming the game, smuggling willfully unseen life and labor into the ivory tower. Inspired by a decorative arts slide collection and his experience roofing with his father, the large-scale assemblages in "The Minor Arts" speak two languages-one of ordinary skilled craft and one of fine art genius, linked together by their offspring, sculpture. These resonant artifacts, "modern castoffs," as Gates calls them-including a gym floor from a closed school, a reconstructed slate roof turned into a monolithic wall, an archive of Ebony magazines (rebound by a master bookbinder), and salvaged stone from a deconsecrated church-stand not only for themselves, but also for the impoverishment of today's urban world. Craftsmanship and the trade arts-indeed, hand-work in general-have lost all meaning and value, while building materials have themselves been dumbed down, reduced to the cheapest (and ugliest) common denominator. More than just structures, the demolished buildings mined by Gates once supported communities-they may not have been architecturally significant, but they embodied pride and identity. Touched with bronze, overlaid with painted geometric grids-graced, in other words, by the aura of canonistic Modernism-these rescued fragments in translation may accomplish what the loss of countless neighborhoods could not, touching people who have never had to watch their world crumble.

Web site http://www.nga.gov

Theaster Gates, installation view of "The Minor Arts"
New Museum - New York: Elaine Cameron-Weir
Through September 3, 2017
Elaine Cameron-Weir, Metaphor Cameron-Weir's sculptures engage various design aesthetics, bringing together modern, industrial, and natural to call attention to phenomena both manifest and hidden. Inspired by 19th-century aesthetes- paragons of highly refined sensitivity- she updates their pursuit of heightened sensory engagement, transgressive sexual desire, and pleasure through artifice and illusion. Artifacts and associations dredged up from the past hold the same allure for her, romanticized and gothicized into lurid, titillating evocations. In "viscera has questions about itself," typical laboratory implements- metal barrels, rods, clamps-would suggest nothing more than scientific observation and inquiry if not for their resemblance to medieval armor, torture devices, and early Renaissance orthopedics, which sit uneasily with hanging bits of fleshy matter. Like Mary Shelley, Cameron-Weir probes the tissues that connect ration - alism and fantasy, looking for aberrations that defy scientific explanation and outlets for human hubris. Forget artificial intelligence and machine rebellion, the implications here are potentially more unsettling. Since we already know that some types of knowledge belong solely to the body, why shouldn't we test biological systems for intelligence and self-awareness? Would the practical or ethical impulse win? And if body parts could be proven to think independently of the brain, would that tip the scales of mind/body duality, redefining what it means to be a thinking animal?

Web site http://www.newmuseum.org


Elaine Cameron-Weir, Metaphor
Nottingham Contemporary - Nottingham, U.K: Lara Favaretto
Through August 28, 2017
Favaretto likes to shift "from perfection to the fall, to push the work to its tipping point, its limit, to endanger it, to the point of making it yield, jam, collapse." Investigating the monumentality and mutability of sculpture, she tests its relationship to time, using failure, futility, and disappearance as generative processes. In this exploration of uncertainty, the artwork becomes a relic, a remnant of events long over and forgotten. "Absolutely Nothing" features works from the past 20 years, including Bulk (2002), 14 enigmatic plaster casts of carnival masks worn in an artistled procession, Relic (2015), nine concrete sculptures cast from part of Favaretto's 400-ton scrap metal project for Documenta 13, and a new public commission-Thinking Head (2017). Inspired by Alighiero e Boetti's final sculpture, the electrically heated self-portrait My Brain is Smoking (1993), Favaretto expands the idea of mental overheating to an entire building, as clouds of steam rising from the roof create a changing display of form and pattern. Designed to reflect the intensity of the energy inside, the visible emanations of this "thinking machine" only tell half the story-the other, subterranean half remains out of sight. If and when Favaretto decides to release the hidden details, we might learn just who is controlling whom in this living experiment with group think.

Web site http://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org


Lara Favaretto, 7724–7716
Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum - Washington, DC: Peter Voulkos
Through August 20, 2017
Peter Voulkos, Annon Arguably the most radical figure in the history of ceramics, Voulkos broke every rule in the potter's handbook, rejecting orthodoxies of proper technique, form, and function (though not before mastering them all). For 15 years (1953–68)-the "Breakthrough Years" of this exhibition-he engaged in a crash course of experimentation, tearing apart and rebuilding everything he knew, violently attacking the vessel, breaking down its parts, and reconfiguring them into a new visual language that fundamentally changed the status of clay as an artistic material. By the time he arrived at his iconic "Stacks," ceramic sculpture could just be sculpture, without the qualifier. So many of the qualities that we value today regardless of medium-formlessness, inelegance, improvisation; the misshapen, the accidental, the failed-can all be traced back to his championing of the potentialities of clay over static perfection. The 31 pieces here, including three wonderful, rarely seen paintings, pursue myriad directions, demonstrating a searching mind working at speed, creating and destroying in the same gesture. This fearless approach to making is Voulkos's true legacy, and his most significant heirs (ironically enough considering his cultish machismo) are artists like Arlene Shechet and Lynda Benglis, to name just two, sculptors who are willing to cross boundaries and disciplines, who discover vital forms through physical and intellectual intimacy with materials.

Web site http://americanart.si.edu

Peter Voulkos, Annon
San Diego Museum of Art - San Diego: Richard Deacon
Through September 4, 2017
Richard Deacon, Under the
Weather no. 1 Deacon, a self-described "fabricator," neither carves nor models; instead, he constructs, using manufacturing and building techniques. For more than 40 years, he has created unique sculptures in a wide variety of materials, from laminated wood, polycarbonate, and paper to leather, cloth, and ceramic. Realized at both domestic and monumental scales, his structures combine biomorphic forms with elements of engineering, hiding none of the technical processes behind their realization. The sculptures are defined as much by the space within and around them as their innovative, dynamically interactive shapes. His aptly titled retrospective, "What You See Is What You Get," features 40 three-dimensional works from across three decades, including the new Under the Weather no. 1 (the first in a projected series), all pursuing the motion inherent in life forms.

Web site http://www.sdmart.org


Richard Deacon, Under the Weather no. 1
Yorkshire Sculpture Park - West Bretton, Wakefield, U.K: Tony Cragg
Through September 3, 2017
Tony Cragg, Caldera A "radical materialist," Cragg defines sculpture as a "rare category of objects." The individual elements that make up his compositions are important, but his process depends on whether and how those elements can be developed and transformed into a whole larger than the sum of its parts. A scientific, almost "manic," interest in the potential movement of bodies drives him to search for, study, and reveal all the possible mutations of a primary structure. Executed in a variety of materials, his shape-shifting sculptures reject the idea of closed form in favor of "openings." This indoor and outdoor show, his largest U.K. exhibition to date, features works in glass, bronze, steel, plastic, wood, and stone from Cragg's nearly five-decade career, as well as new sculptures. From his radical plastic stacks of the '70s through the Micro/Macrostructures, Organs and Organisms, Vessels and Cells, and Early Forms to Rational Beings, his works reveal a physical approach to spirituality-a commitment to form as ideas made manifest, that offers, as Cragg says, "an alternative to looking at nature and an alternative to looking at a dull-headed industrial, utilitarian reality."

Web site http://www.ysp.co.uk


Tony Cragg, Caldera

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