International Sculpture Center
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Sculpture cover


Oct 2011
Vol.30 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.

ARKEN - Ishøj, Denmark: Olafur Eliasson
Through November 27, 2011
Eliasson’s complex investigations at the intersection of human perception and natural phenomena combine stunning visual pyrotechnics, conceptual sophistication, and scientific curiosity. His constructions use geometric and crystalline forms, light projections, and natural materials such as water and plant matter to shift the viewer’s sense of place and consciousness, creating atmospheres in which to encounter what he calls “devices for evaluating the experience of reality.” Visitors to his new site-specific installation find themselves plunged into dense fog, with almost no visibility. Demanding singular, intense attention, Your blind passenger requires “viewers” to upend the normal perceptual hierarchy and use those senses regularly subordinated to sight if they ever hope to navigate through to the other side.
Tel: + 45 43 54 02 22
Web site

Olafur Eliasson, Your blind passenger.
Dia:Beacon - Beacon, New York: Franz Erhard Walther
Through February 13, 2012
Walther has created provocative meditations on art as an act of “doing” for more than 50 years. In the early 1960s, following the example of Fontana, Klein, Manzoni, and Beuys, he pursued interaction and liberation, seeking to “conceive work out of an action.” This exhibition of more than two dozen works created between 1962 and 1973 focuses on the Handlungsstücke (Action Pieces) and Werkstücke (Work Pieces), which employ straightforward physical acts—pressing, folding, unfolding, and covering surfaces with malleable materials—as sculptural principles. To honor the radical nature of Walther’s approach, Dia is allowing viewers full access to the “storage site” of 1. Werksatz (First Work Set), where they may freely use and wear a selection of its 58 fabric “instruments” and enjoy the museum version of uninhibited experience. Tel: 845.440.0100 Web site

Franz Erhard Wlather, Time Place Duration Direction Relation (Nr. 58, 1. Werksatz).
Froh Ussicht Estate - Samstagern, Switzerland: “The Garden of Forking Paths”
Through October 30, 2011
Conceived as a contemporary Sacro Bosco, “The Garden of Forking Paths” attempts to capture something of the mystery permeating that enchanted Renaissance garden. The invited artists (Pablo Bronstein, Liz Craft, Fabian Marti, Peter Regli, Thiago Rocha Pitta, Ida Ekblad, Geoffrey Farmer, Kerstin Kartscher, and Ragnar Kjartansson) have all created their own fantastic narratives, guided by Borges’s concept of the labyrinth as the fundamental human experience. In this world of delight and incongruity, imagination and reality become one, and anything, no matter how unlikely, is possible.
Tel: + 41 44 277 20 50
Web site,

Fabian Marti, Heroic Dose, from "The Garden of Forking Paths."
Hammer Museum - Los Angeles: Shannon Ebner
Through October 23, 2011
Ebner, whose work investigates language as material, occupies a distinct place in the borderland practices joining sculpture and photography. Informed by poetry, experimental writing, and political speech, she creates do-it-yourself alphabets of handmade letters and signs, temporarily placing—and strategically displacing—them in public contexts. Entering such uncertain landscapes and iconic tableaux as the La Brea Tar Pits, prime California real estate, and the Washington Monument, her ephemeral messages (in series such as “Dead Democracy Letters” and “Sculptures Involuntaires”) mine the porous and indefinite topography of linguistic meaning and liberate its potential for infinite possibility. This show features portions of The Electric Comma, an ongoing investigation in which markers of delay examine interference in imagery and communication.
Tel: 310.443.7000
Web site

Shannon Ebner, Incendiary Distress Signal No. 6
Henry Moore Institute - Leeds, U.K.: Mario Merz
Through October 30, 2011
Like other leading Arte Povera figures, Merz rejected purely formal concerns in favor of engagement with social, political, and environmental issues, rethinking the possibilities of sculpture by observing the world around him. The title of this show, “What is to be done,” emphasizes a central question in his approach. Driven by concerns of what artists can do in the face of a precarious future, Merz created a role for art in day-to-day human experience, relying on materials already at hand, including glass, metal tubing, blankets, bottles, wood shavings, and neon (which he considered “a kind of thunderbolt”), and forms derived from the mathematical order of the natural world (such as the Fibonacci sequence, which unfurls in spirals). This show features 12 works created between 1977 and 1996, including Automobile pierced by neon, What is to de done?, and Object hide yourself, one of Merz’s distinctive igloos, a form that represents independence, self-sufficiency, and survival.
Tel: + 44 (0) 113 246 7467
Web site

Mario Merz, II Ponte.
Malmö Konsthall - Malmö, Sweden: Misaki Kawai
Through November 6, 2011
Kawai’s energetic aesthetic grows out of her earliest influences: her father was an architect and amateur painter; her mother made clothing and puppets. She takes an interest in handicraft, adds a fascination with Western pop culture, and mixes them both with an architectural sense of space. The resulting sculptures and installations offer a mischievous vision of the world, one in which handmade dolls of the artist and her friends mingle with cultural icons. Despite their intentionally child-like naiveté (influenced by the heta-uma manga style, or “bad technique with good results”), these dream-like sculptures create intricate microcosms filled with surprising and playful details that transport viewers to alternate worlds.
Tel: + 46 40 34 12 93
Web site

Misaki Kawai, Space Explorer
Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York: Anthony Caro on the Roof
Through October 30, 2011
This mini-retrospective, which spans the course of Caro’s long career, cel?ebrates the 50th anniversary of his first exhibition of steel sculpture. After abandoning figurative modeling in clay and casting in bronze, he turned to constructing and welding in steel, overturning conventional ideas about materials, method, surface, scale, form, and space. Above all, he insisted on the immediate physical presence of sculpture, placing his work directly on the ground, in the viewer’s space. The five large-scale works gathered here highlight his major stylistic concerns: forms engaged in space, new abstract analogies for the human figure and landscape, and “sculptitecture”—dialogues between sculpture and architecture that take on increased drama against the Manhattan skyline.
Tel: 212.535.7710
Web site

Anthony Caro, installation view with After Summer.
Modern Art Oxford - Oxford, U.K.: Abraham Cruzvillegas
Through November 20, 201
Cruzvillegas’s thought-provoking arrangements of disparate, apparently unrelated objects employ everything from feathers and studio props to bowling balls, candles, leaves, and other everyday finds. The volatile energy that pervades his work re-creates the life of the streets, flirting with popular culture, television, music, advertising, and flea markets. This show introduces a new element into his long-running project Autoconstrucción. In these commissions (including a group of “shrunken heads” made from dung and a mobile urban sound sculpture), Mexico City’s eclectic and improvisatory architecture meets Oxford’s checkered history of science, literature, magic, ethnography, and imperialism. As Cruzvillegas explains, Autoconstrucción operates as a metaphor for individual identity and the unfinished, changing character of place—an empowering notion of “survival economics” and solidarity against faceless power.
Tel: + 44 (0) 1865 813830
Web site

Abraham Cruzvillegas, La Familia.
Museum of Contemporary Art - Los Angeles: Miranda July
Through October 23, 2011
Drawing on old-fashioned carnival fantasy photo-ops, July’s “Eleven Heavy Things” offers exhibitionist viewers a selection of clever, offbeat stages to inhabit. Designed for interactive posturing, the cast fiberglass, steel-lined sculptures act as pedestals on which to pose, tableaux for the insertion of body parts, and freestanding headdresses. But choose your backdrop carefully, your decision might reveal more than you intended. Are you The Guilty One, The Guiltier One, or The Guiltiest One? What are you saying if you choose a Burberry plaid or an intricate lace aura? And the innuendos scarcely bare mentioning when you become a human plug and carry the descriptive label, “This is not the first hole my finger has been in, nor will it be the last.” Though July’s project begins as sculpture, it mutates into a performance that only reaches completion when the photos move into a wider sphere—at which point, the subject clearly becomes the participants, who reveal themselves through the work.
Tel: 213.621.1749
Web site

Miranda July, Pedestal for Strangers.
Museum Ludwig - Köln: John Miller
Through October 31, 2011
With a mixture of empathy, insight, and humor, Miller hurls himself into the tumult of everyday life. His complex sculptures, installations, and two-dimensional works, which can be critical in intent and poetic in appearance, distill commonplaces in order to tease out images of “normality.” Drawing on the ironic strategies of Fluxus, he begins with linguistic and psychoanalytical theories, then latches on to the viewer’s cultural and visual vocabulary in order to trigger a stream of unexpected associations. This small show, awarded as part of the Wolfgang Hahn Prize, features Self-Made Man, a new two-part sculpture based on advertising kiosks.
Tel: + 49 221 221 26165
Web site

John Miller, Self-Made Man.
Prospect Park - Brooklyn, New York: Robert Lobe
Through November 2011
Interested primarily in material, form, and process, Lobe wraps sheets of aluminum around trees and rock formations, then hammers them with a pneumatic drill at 1,500 strokes per minute, altering the molecular structure of the metal and creating a cast. Through this adaptation of repoussé, he transforms seemingly solid material into weightless layers, giving a different take on art in nature. At Prospect Park, three recent works, Invisible Earth, Antique Jenny, and Nature’s Clock, find a perfect foil in Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s masterpiece of landscape design, another synthesis of art and nature.
Web site parks/prospectpark

Robert Lobe, Invisible Earth.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum - New York: Hans-Peter Feldmann
November 2, 2011
Feldmann, whose casual inventories of ordinary things have influenced two generations of European artists, creates elegantly spare installations, sculptures, books, photographs, and paintings that illuminate the mysteries of daily life. Sifted through a conceptualist sieve, his collected images and objects—whether mass-produced or artist-generated— re-present the vernacular, the amateur, the ephemeral, and the unattended, bringing order and understanding to bear on a cacophony of visual trivia. This Hugo Boss Prize exhibition includes a wide range of works that uncover the unexpected life hidden behind the mundane, taking us back to a time of innocence, when any image or piece of junk could become a window into another world.
Tel: 212.423.3500
Web site

Hans-Peter Feldmann, House Made of Measure Sticks.
Venice Biennale - Venice
Through November 27, 2011
More than one writer has noted that the 54th Biennale boasts unusual extremes, ricocheting between the dazzling and the dull, the serious and the lightweight. Director Bice Curiger, who curated the group exhibition, set the bar almost impossibly high when she chose to introduce “ILLUMInations” with three spectacular canvases by Tintoretto. Few 21st century artists can perform such miracles of transubstant?iation (conjuring transcendent spirit from base matter) or match such emotional and visual intensity. Within the group show, Urs Fischer and Nicholas Hlobo display passion, courage, and recklessness. Christian Boltanski, in the French pavilion, offers a sense of urgency in his unsettling wonderland, a realm ruled, like life, by chance; Mike Nelson in the British pavilion (either a self-regarding reprise of his 2003 Istanbul Biennial installation or a delicate, melancholy meditation) captures the tragic ironies of identity, history, and memory; and Karla Black’s “almost objects,” which fill eight rooms at the Palazzo Pisani, hover between energy and mass to hint at altered states. If the role of art is to shed light on (and possibly improve) the human condition, then the works in two first-time national pavilions deserve special mention. Housed in a temporary structure built from shipping containers, Haiti’s “Death and Fertility,” with works by 15 artists, goes to the root of belief, instinct, and the drive to find miracles in the mundane and immortality in death. A similar atmosphere permeates the visual marvel constructed by Shadia and Raja Alem, the outspoken sisters representing Saudi Arabia. The Black Arch evokes the liminal experience of a pilgrim walking around Mecca’s holiest sanctuary, the ancient, shrouded Ka’aba, but it is also an indictment of ignorance—the strongest and most resilient barrier to illumination.
Tel: +39 (0) 41 5218711
Web site

Jennifer Allora and Guilermo Calzadilla, Gloria, at the U.S. Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennale.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Richmond: Tristan Lowe
Through October 30, 2011
Conflating fact and fiction, Lowe’s massive Mocha Dick raises the ghost of a real-life albino sperm whale that inhabited the South Pacific waters near Mocha Island in the early 19th century. Vividly chronicled by a New England seafarer who published his accounts in Knickerbocker magazine (1839), the beast was said to have attacked as many as 20 whaling vessels. “As white as wool…as white as a snow drift… white as the surf around him,” it also inspired Melville’s classic epic of fascination and obsession. Like Melville, Lowe (working in collaboration with the Fabric Workshop and Museum) expresses a profound awe and empathy for a misunderstood and beleaguered creature. His lovingly crafted, inflatable vinyl and industrial felt re-creation, complete with handmade barnacles and scar-like stitching, “is not about Ahab’s quest for revenge, not even about the whale itself,” but a glowing symbol of our search for the unattainable.
Tel: 804.340.1400
Web site

Tristan Lowe, Mocha Dick, created in collaboration with the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia
Yorkshire Sculpture Park - West Bretton, Wakefield, U.K.: Aeneas Wilder
Through November 3, 2011
Wilder uses uniform lengths of wood to create complex, freestanding structures—all holding together without fixatives or connectors. The apparently solid, but extremely fragile Untitled #155 continues his exploration into the illusion of architectural stability with a seemingly safe shelter that teeters on the brink of collapse. Permanence, value, and commodification also come under attack at the end of the show, when Wilder will host a “kick-down” event. By bringing his carefully engineered construction crashing to the floor, he challenges the idea of art as an investment while supporting a notion of the world as a state of constant flux fueled by recycling and repurposing. Precariousness and ruin hint at the temporary balance struck between human effort and the forces of nature—all of our structures are temporary and subject to eventual destruction.
Tel: + 44 (0) 1924 832631
Web site

Aeneas Wilder, Untitled #155 (in progress).

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