International Sculpture Center
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Sculpture cover

June 2013
Vol. 32 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.

Ballroom Marfa - Marfa, Texas: Rashid Johnson
Through July 7, 2013
Johnson’s installations, sculptures, photographs, and videos offer deep meditations on the phenomena that shape African American culture while questioning any uniformity in the “black experience.” Wading through dense thickets of reference and information, he blends personal and historically loaded objects (books, album covers, and shea butter) into complicated aggregates that defy taxonomy and confound collective identity. Beginning with the question, “What would happen if Sun Ra, George Washington Carver, and Robert Smithson started a community together in the desert?” “New Growth” playfully intertwines cosmology, escapism, and irrigation in order to redraw the past, present, and future of the desert around Marfa. Newly commissioned works include a large-scale sculpture and video—both produced in situ— as well as paintings, works in wood, and island-like installations. Tel: 432.729.3600 Web site

Rashid Johnson, installation view of “New Growth.”
Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston - Houston: Andy Coolquitt
Through August 24, 2013
Scavenging the streets for remnants of human activity, Coolquitt transforms debris such as metal tubing, plastic lighters, empty bottles, drinking straws, and paper bags, into humble monuments to transient existences and temporary encounters in public space. Though his materials are drawn from the exterior world, they also express an interior life that humanizes homelessness. Individual sculptures and groupings imply a sense of domesticity, whether through association or function—providing light, warmth, and other physical comforts. For his first solo museum exhibition, Coolquitt has recombined 60 discrete sculptures and tableaux into a new installation that reflects on the gallery as a codified place of interaction for people and artworks. The show also includes a selection of “somebody-mades” and “in-betweens,” works that straddle the line between autonomous sculptures and unaltered appropriations. These quasi-artworks further complicate the relationship between creation and reception, artist and audience, blurring the boundaries of art and life. Tel: 713.743.2255 Web site

Andy Coolquitt, chair w/ paintings.
Brooklyn Museum - Brooklyn: Michael Ballou
Through July 7, 2013
For the eighth installment of the “Raw/Cooked” series, Ballou, a Williamsburg-based multimedia artist whose work incorporates sculpture, performance, and collaboration, has created three interconnected installations exploring the behavior and inner lives of animals. Dog Years, a monumental construction of more than 30 sculptures modeled on animals of his acquaintance, occupies the Decorative Arts galleries. Go-Go enlivens the fifth-floor elevator lobby with a mobile puppet suspended from the ceiling, ambient music, and the play of projected light and shadows. And Pencil Holders responds to the Luce Visible Storage/Study Center. Drawn to the Wunderkammer-quality of this treasure house, Ballou added several of his own ceramic sculptures, accompanied by six fictional contributions by authors Stephanie Barber, David Brody, James Hannaham, Kurt Hoffman, Helen Phillips, and Matthew Sharpe (all accessible by QR code). Tel: 718.638.5000 Web site

Michael Ballou, detail of work in progress.
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park - Grand Rapids: Zhang Huan
Through August 25, 2013
Zhang Huan began his career with controversial performances that tested his physical endurance and pushed the limits of acceptability in post-Tiananmen China. After moving to New York in 1998, he staged photographs as performances and enacted large-scale events, often involving scores of volunteers. Several years ago, his work took another turn when he established a studio in a former Shanghai garment factory and began to produce monumental sculptures. These suggestive and forceful works, made from bronze, incense ash, and found materials from the Chinese countryside, reflect on the historical legacy of Buddhism and its place in the modern world. “Looking East, Facing West” follows his personal journey through photographic and sculptural works from the last 15 years. Tel: 888.957.1580 Web site

Zhang Huan, Long Island Buddha.
Gemeentemuseum - The Hague: Yes Naturally
Through August 16, 2013
“Yes Naturally” raises the question of what is natural. Are human beings the only ones with a say, or do animals, plants, and inanimate objects also have a role to play? From clichéd images of romantic landscapes to the inescapable facts of environmental degradation, this large-scale exhibition offers a tour of the natural world from a variety of unusual perspectives. Works by more than 80 artists, including Francis Alÿs, Jimmie Durham, Olafur Eliasson, Fischli & Weiss, Natalie Jeremijenko, Marjetica Potrc, Atelier van Lieshout, Zeger Reyers, Superflex, and Ai Weiwei, establish surprising partnerships of humanity, nature, and technology. The results are both liberating and hilarious: you can design your own pet and harvest the city; your smartphone is your memory, Facebook your habitat, and the Internet the new biotope. In keeping with its extra-human spirit, “Yes Naturally” moves beyond the walls of culture, spreading outdoors to the museum grounds, the dune forest, and into the city, with urban wildlife safaris, performances, workshops, and public programs, supplemented by social media and on-line forums. Tel: + 31 (0) 70 3381111 Web site

Keith Edmier and Victoria Regia, First Night Bloom, from “Yes Naturally.”
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg -
Wolfsburg, Germany: Christian Boltanski
Through July 21, 2013
Few artists dance with death like Boltanski. Though he is best known for emotionally intense installations that conjure the tragedy of World War II concentration camps, his true interest lies in “the fact of dying.” In his recent work—following a bizarre bet with MONA founder David Walsh—the universal becomes personal, and thematic interest becomes imbedded in his own skin, tied to his own life expectancy. Transgressing this last taboo means nothing to an artist who follows the example of Lucretius and refuses to fear or cheat his way out of life’s inevitable outcome: “It is not melancholic, but felicitous when you accept death. It makes every moment great, more important, and happier.” This show of recent work connecting life and death focuses on a new, kinetic interpretation of the Menschlich (Human) archive. In Spirit(s), transparent renderings of the archival subjects (some living; some deceased) drift on air currents, coming briefly into focus, overlapping, then fading again in homage to our two-part finale in which physical ending is followed by immaterial disappearance—an equally eternal erasure of image and memory. Tel: + 49 (0) 5361 2669 0
Web site

Christian Boltanski, Last second.
Kunstverein München - Munich:
Rebecca Warren
Through June 16, 2013
Ranging from the amorphous to the recognizable, Warren’s sculptures have opened brash new possibilities for form, material, and subject matter. Taking one of the most traditional subjects in art history—the female nude—she subverts inherited, male-defined clichés, while simultaneously questioning the formal aspects of sculpture—what it should be and what it should look like. The key to her inspired transgressions, which result in rough, distorted, unfinished or damaged-looking sculptures, lies in the malleability and freedom of clay. Left unfired, spontaneous gestures and improvised formal risk-taking continue to breathe life into her awkward compositions; not yet resolved, still capable of change, these works maintain the freshness of sketches, multiplying into dynamic groups that blend shrewdly intelligent art historical and social insight with an emotional appeal that resonates on a much more basic level. Tel: + 49 (0) 89-221 152 Web site

Rebecca Warren, Croccioni.
Musée du Quai Branly - Paris:
The Philippines: Archipelago of Exchange
Through July 14, 2013
The Quai Branly’s motto—where cultures converse—expresses a sentiment that dates back to its venerable antecedents, the Musée de l’Homme and Musée des Arts Africains et Océaniens. Building on the idea that unexpected artistic directions emerge when diverse peoples cross paths, it brings together (non-Western) artifacts from across time and space and sets them into motion in a contemporary context. Though not without its critics, such a commitment to exchange is more pressing than ever in today’s increasingly interdependent and divided world. “Archipelago of Exchange” focuses on one particularly rich and relatively obscure area of cross-fertilization—the strategically located islands of the Philippines. More than 300 pre-colonial works—sculpture, pottery, textiles, and personal ornaments—reveal a rich and open visual culture that extended from prehistoric times, through successive waves of Austronesian peoples bringing Malay, Indian, Indonesian, Arab, and Chinese influences, to the arrival of Magellan in 1521. Though reminiscent of stylistically “pure” works from larger centers, these hybrid productions break with canonical types to become something entirely their own. Tel: + 33 (0) 1 56 61 70 00 Web site

Ritual sculpture, from “The Philippines.”
Museum of Contemporary Art - Chicago:
Amalia Pica
Through August 11, 2013

Using sculpture, film, and installation, Pica explores the goals of enunciation and the performative nature of thought. She has a particular fascination with communication breakdown: for instance, works based on deaf monologues and halting conversations “talk” about inadequacies in our ability to make contact—a point taken to absurd heights in a semaphore performance in which she spells out “babble,” “blabber,” and “yada yada yada.” Her often participatory projects directly intervene in public life, staging and condensing moments of cultural intimacy and civic participation. This show, which includes recent performance, sculptural, and film works, also features the new nomadic sculpture I am Tower of Hamlets, as I am in Tower of Hamlets, which Chicago-area residents may “borrow” and take care of for a week before returning. Tel: 312.280.2660 Web site

Amalia Pica, Stabile (with confetti).

Nasher Sculpture Center - Dallas: Nathan Mabry
Through July 7, 2013
Inspired by everything from archaeology and ethnology to Dada, Surrealism, and icons of Modernism, Mabry “crashes” different aesthetics together to form bizarre, sometimes unsettling, conflations that stymie criticality. When Roman sculpture (Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf) collides with African basketry and contemporary junk à la Rauschenberg, anything is possible: meaning and value become unstable, and interpretation murky. Sincere or cynical, profoundly deep or laughingly superficial, these mash-ups nevertheless possess the power to move as well as confound. By turns poignant, humorous, critical, and admiring, they capture the ambivalent, constantly changing nature of our relationship to the cultural past. Mabry’s outdoor “Sightings” installation features a new work based on an ancient Jalisco figure in the Nasher Collection, in addition to Process Art (B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E), a monstrous metamorphosis of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais.
Tel: 214.242.5100 Web site

Nathan Mabry, Process Art (B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E).
New Museum - New York:
Center for Historical Reenactments
Through July 17, 2013
CHR, an independent Johannesburg-based group of artists, curators, and writers, was founded in 2010 in response to rapid, and unequal, development in South Africa. Taking a unique approach to social problems, its projects focused on historic events and sites, particularly from the apartheid era, to investigate historical context and explore how defunct ideologies maintain their grip on social systems. For “After-after Tears,” CHR members Donna Kukama, Gabi Ngcobo, and Kemang Wa Lehulere have developed a multifaceted exhibition that covers the life of the group and its operational strategies, most notably the decision to commit an institutional “death” in 2012 in order to forestall inevitable devolution from experimental platform to formal organization. The gallery presentation elucidates CHR’s working philosophy of subversion, mediation, and transversal processes, while performances and public programs propose future activities—all geared toward opening up discussions about the art system, institutional mechanisms, and the complexity of relationships within power systems. Tel: 212.219.1222 Web site

Center for Historical Reenactments, Na Ku Randza
Smithsonian American Art Museum - Washington, DC: Nam June Paik
Through August 11, 2013
Video artist, performer, composer, and new media sculpture visionary, Paik was one of the most innovative artists of the 20th century, countering doomsday “Future Shock” premonitions with witty and humanized renderings of technology. More than 40 years ago, he saw the significance (and dangers) of TV and rapid communication and devoted the rest of his career to proving that technology can do more than lull and enslave. A student of commercial and ideological forces, he upended appropriated imagery (and its delivery devices), turning propagandistic pablum into a call for thinking resistance. In the process, he transformed the video image into a tool capable of redefining the parameters of sculpture and installation. This survey, the first in a series of exhibitions drawn from the artist’s archive (acquired by SAAM in 2009), features more than 65 works, including key loans from Germany, where Paik was an influential member of Fluxus, and more than 140 items from his archive. Together, these selections offer an unprecedented glimpse into his creative method—an appropriate approach to an innovator who never mystified his operations. Tel: 202.633.7970 Web site

Selected objects from the Nam June Paik archive.

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