International Sculpture Center
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November 2013
Vol. 32 No 9

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.

Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago: Josiah McElheny
Through December 14, 2013
Best known for his attempts to represent the infinite, McElheny narrows the focus in this two-part installation. Though his meticulously crafted glass assemblages usually double as metaphors for time and space, in “Two Clubs” they enter a concrete dialogue with a specific moment and its manifestation—the utopian aspirations of the Modernist imperative. The Light Club of Vizcaya (a film originally commissioned by the Vizcaya Estate Museum and Gardens in Miami) and The Club for Modern Fashions (a glass pavilion/performance space that pays homage to Mies van der Rohe’s 1951 design for The Arts Club) reveal the absurd, exclusionary pretensions behind the mid-century quest to elevate humanity through purified design. Aspirants to this higher state might bathe in dazzling light and parade in streamlined clothes through tasteful interiors (performances every day at lunchtime), but any transformation remains brittle and superficial, transparency never penetrating to the soul.
Web site

Josiah McElheny, conceptual rendering for The Club for Modern Fashions.
City Hall Park, New York: Lightness of Being
Through December 13, 2013
“Lightness of Being” brings together works by 11 international artists who approach the public realm with an engaging sense of play and wry humor. At once lighthearted and enigmatic, their works combine visual wit and material sensibility in unexpected twists on ordinary, prosaic reality. Impossible animal/ human hybrids, precarious architectural configurations constructed from unlikely building blocks, and metamorphosed versions of vehicles and vegetables inject a perplexing energy into the staid rhythms of normality. Works by Cristian Andersen, James Angus, Daniel Buren, Olaf Breuning, Evan Holloway, Alicja Kwade, Sarah Lucas, Ugo Rondinone, David Shrigley, Gary Webb, and Franz West demonstrate the lighter side of serious art.
Web site

David Shrigley, Metal Flip Flops, from “Lightness of Being.”
DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montreal: Cory Arcangel
Through November 24, 2013
Initially trained in classical guitar and music technology at Oberlin, Arcangel has embraced the anarchic potential of the Internet and its utopian open-source culture, transforming himself into the leading voice of pop-tinged, computer-centered art. His altered hardware sculptures and appropriated software interventions might question the value of authorship, but more importantly, they revel in our fraught relationship with electronic media. Fascinated with technology’s built-in obsolescence, he also celebrates its noise, mindless repetitions, and inevitable failures while gleefully transgressing codes of intended use. He plays serious pranks with computers—disabling Nintendo games, hacking and manipulating software, and re-editing YouTube videos to coax new meanings out of banal tropes. In addition to modified video games, this show features a new sculpture, Web site, and performance, as well as an installation that re-encodes a film about race into an aloof abstraction of endlessly pulsating bands of color and a QuickTime diary of his hard drive’s computational inner life.
Web site

Cory Arcangel, Research in motion.
Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague: Jake & Dinos Chapman
Through January 1, 2014
Perpetrators of shock and scandal since 1990, the Chapmans continue to mine the depths of depravity. From sexually reconfigured mannequins to tribal sculptures invested in the cult of the Golden Arches, their works have provocatively portrayed the savage face of contemporary culture. This show features a selection of new and recent sculptural works, including Pig Child and the multi-part Fucking Dinosaurs. Alternately naïve, sarcastic, funny, and horrifying, these works force us to examine the debased condition of our political, social, and moral present. From extinction and environmental depredation to exploitation in the name of consumption and human perversions of every description, the result is deeply complex, intelligent, and intense.
Web site

Jake & Dinos Chapman, Pig Child.
Groninger Museum, Groningen, the Netherlands: Fuck Off 2
Through November 17, 2013
Curated by artist and activist Ai Weiwei, art critic Feng Boyi, and the Groninger Museum’s chief curator Mark Wilson, this show features works by 37 contemporary Chinese artists and artist groups who question the sociological, environmental, legal, and political climate in China today. The exhibition is a sequel to “Fuck Off,” the ground-breaking show staged in Shanghai in 2000 by Ai and Feng, which was quickly censored by the authorities for its radical content. Thirteen years later, provocations are no less necessary considering the continued lack of civil and artistic freedom in China and the government’s increasingly repressive attitude toward individual actions. Participating artists include Ai, Chen Yujin & Chen Yufan, Cheng Li (sentenced to a year’s “re-education” in 2011), Double Fly Art Center, He Chi & Xiong Huang Group, He Xiangyu, He Yunchang, Ji Wenyu & Zhu Weibing, Jiang Bo, Jin Feng, Jing Kewen, Li Binyuan, Li Songsong, Liang Shuo, Lin Zhipeng, Luo Yang, Ma Qiusha, Ma Yi, Mao Tongqiang, Meng Huang, Qin Ga, Ren Hang, Wu Huaying & Liu Xiaoyuan, Wu Junyong, Xi Mei, Xia Xing, Ye Haiyan, Zhang Dali, Zhao Zhao, and Zuoxiao Zuzhou.
Web site

Cheng Li, Art Whore, from “Fuck Off 2.”
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin: Anish Kapoor
Through November 24, 2013
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. This survey of more than 70 sculptures underscores the duality at the heart of his practice, gathering a selection of iconic works as well as new commissions. From the refined saturations of the pigment sculptures through the voids and the non-objects, to the ritualized, mechanized acts of creation/ violence performed by his recent installations, Kapoor’s illusion of immateriality is grounded in transformative materiality.
Web site

Anish Kapoor, 1st Body.
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin: Meret Oppenheim
Through December 1, 2013
Although Oppenheim created Surrealism’s most iconic image—Déjeuner en fourrure—few have looked beyond the furry teacup to find a complex artist who achieved much more than a one-liner. This retrospective (her first) illuminates the full range of her work from 1932 through 1985 in painting, sculpture, poetry, drawing, and design; as an added bonus, her extraordinary fountain for Bern’s Waisenhausplatz is just a day’s drive away. The witty play of oppositions, estrangements, fusions, and metamorphoses that characterizes Déjeuner expresses more than just rebellion: throughout her career, Oppenheim explored gray areas and border zones, seeking interrelationships between nature and culture, man and woman, day and night, dream and reality—all in the interest of independence and freedom. Her critical approach to social stereotyping and gender roles remains relevant today: as she said in 1975, “Freedom isn’t given to you— you have to take it.”
Web site

Meret Oppenheim, Eichhörnchen.
Metropolitan Museum of Art/The Cloisters, New York: Janet Cardiff
Through December 8, 2013
Since the early ’90s, Cardiff (often in collaboration with George Bures Miller) has created works that use voice and sound as both raw material and subject. Situated in the intersection of cinema, theater, radio, literature, and sculpture, these installations evolve as transformative experiences through time and space, using fictional narrative and sound effects to question sensory experience: what is heard does not always match what is seen. In The Forty Part Motet, considered Cardiff’s masterpiece, 40 speakers continuously play a reworked version of Thomas Tallis’s mid-16th-century com­position Spem in alium num­quam habui (In No Other Is My Hope) together with a spoken prologue. Walking among the speakers creates a constantly changing aural and sculptural space that ranges from isolation to community. Set inside the Cloisters’ acoustically superb 12th-century Fuentidueña Chapel, this minimal intervention takes on a hallucinatory and phantasmagorical quality, creating a zone of unreality where contradictory phenomena and traditions coincide outside of time and space.
Web site

Janet Cardiff, The Forty Part Motet
Plateau, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul: Takashi Murakami
Through December 8, 2013

As worshipped as he is reviled, Murakami has created an industrially scaled body of work that appeals to everyone from brand-conscious art collectors to video-game-obsessed teenagers. Like Warhol and Koons, Murakami has made his life symbiotic with pop culture while disguising a genuine critical edge. Establishing a reciprocal (“flattened”) relationship between high art and mass culture, he envisions characters with both fantastical and spiritual iconographies, brings them to life in painting, film, installation, and sculpture, and then returns them to their marketplace origins through merchandizing (from key chains to T-shirts). Part side show, part existential exploration, his works offer a portrait of the artist as cartoon, a mirror of global networks struggling to maintain a private universe in the face of information overload. “Takashi in Superflat Wonderland” features the full range of his unique characters, including political works from the early ’90s, large-scale otaku-inspired figural projects from the late ’90s, and the ongoing evolution of his anime alter ego.
Web site

Takashi Murakami, Kaikai.

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC: Wayne Higby
Through December 8, 2013
One of the most innovative second-generation ceramic artists to come out of the American studio movement, Higby has defied the normal boundaries drawn between form and surface decoration, interior and exterior, two and three dimensions, to achieve a unique vision of the American landscape. For 40 years, his vessels, sculptures, and architectural installations have conjoined oppositions to create ambiguous zones of quiet coherence that highlight the interplay of light, space, and time. Reinterpreting the austere Colorado landscape of his childhood, his panoramic landscapes—running over, around, through, and into his forms—create “silent, empty spaces where finite and infinite, intimate and immense intersect.” “Infinite Place,” his first retrospective, brings together more than 60 works, focusing on his groundbreaking work in raku as well as his later production in porcelain and maquettes for large-scale commissions.
Web site

Wayne Higby, Green Terrace Canyon.
Venice Biennale, Venice
Through November 24, 2013
In the age of the Internet, with the illusion of limitless information at our fingertips, it’s not surprising that the mad lust to capture all of the world’s knowledge has resurfaced. It has been with us from the Library of Alexandria through the Enlightenment and Victorian self-improvment—secretive and privileged, open and democratic, a means of control and an object worthy of hoarding in its own right. Massimiliano Gioni’s group exhibition for the 55th Biennale, “The Encyclopedic Palace,” follows the trend, but rejects obtuse cataloguing and pedantic classification (à la the bumbling Bouvard and Pecuchet), replacing narrow categorization and its one-sided view of the world with a broader inclusiveness of vision. Gioni is interested in the quest for “abso­lute knowledge,” the drive behind the pursuit, not its actual acquisition. His show, centered on one of the great monuments of outsider art—Marino Auriti’s model for The Encyclopaedic Palace of the World—unfolds a “delirium of the imagination,” creating a Wunderkammer devoted to “the images that lie within us and our attempts to understand the world and to organize it within our own minds.” Though Gioni has been criticized for ignoring pressing political concerns, his unorthodox selections (insider and outsider, including Shaker and shamanistic drawings, Carl Jung’s Red Book, and Alistair Crowley’s satanic tarot deck) are anything but apolitical: such alternative ways of knowing and understanding—following paths unrestricted by reason—map out spaces of freedom, transgression, and individuality beyond the reach of norms, supervision, and surveillance (a last section deals with today’s digital culture). The same strategy of resistance characterizes the Iraq pavilion, where artists confront impossible situations by remaking reality. Political statements become more obvious in Alfredo Jaar’s Chile pavilion and Jeremy Deller’s British Pavilion, which offers up the good, bad, and self-serving myths of “English Magic.” Other highlights include Berlinde De Bruyckere (Belgium), Lara Almarcegui (Spain), Sarah Sze (U.S.), and Vincent J.F. Huang representing first-time entrant Tuvalu.
Web site

Lara Almarcegui, A Guide to Sacca San Mattia, the Abandoned Island of Murano, from the Venice Biennale.
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis: Fritz Haeg
Through November 24, 2013
Haeg’s practice spans a range of disciplines—from architecture, performance, and design to education, gardening, and ecology—and includes projects as varied as public dances, urban parades, temporary encampments, edible gardens, videos, and publications. Created in collaboration with local residents and groups, his projects respond to particular places and concerns. The specially created works in “At Home in the City” demonstrate the close ties connecting three usually distinct realms of human experience: wild nature (a foraging circle of native plants in the sculpture garden); cultivated garden (Edible Estates #15, the last of his front lawn makeovers in which vegetables replace grass); and private home (a rag rug collectively produced from donated clothing). Whether indoors or out, these cooperative endeavors create spaces of exchange and community. As Haeg notes, “Home is the first place where people can affect immediate change.”
Web site

Fritz Haeg, Edible Estates #4.

Whitechapel Gallery, London: Sarah Lucas
Through December 15, 2013
Lucas’s provocative sculptures exalt in coarse visual puns, common vulgarities, and a defiant, bawdy humor. Created from an idiosyncratic mix of everyday materials, including worn furniture, clothing, fruit and vegetables, newspapers, cigarettes, cars, resin, plaster, and light fittings, their grungy, sometimes haphazard appearance only reinforces a serious and complex subject matter. Lucas makes sculpture of and from the human body—a time-bound, decaying object that requires maintenance and care—and her quasi-narrative scenarios question gender definitions and defy macho culture. As she puts it, “With only minor adjustments, a provocative image can become confrontational, converted from an offer of sexual service into a castration image.” “Situations” brings together two decades of sculptures, installations, and photographs that challenge artistic as well as social proprieties in their pursuit of a new balance in human relations.
Web site

Sarah Lucas, Bunny Gets Snookered #1.

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