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January/February 2016
Vol. 35 No. 1

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.

Gemeentemuseum, The Hague: Bouke de Vries
Through February 28, 2016
Bouke de Vries, War & Pieces de Vries considers perfection over-rated. He began his love affair with ceramics as a restorer, reassembling everything from old porcelain to the iconic Modernist pots of Lucie Rie and Hans Coper, to contemporary works by Gavin Turk and Grayson Perry, who is also an occasional collaborator—Perry smashes, and de Vries pieces the shards back together. de Vries’s own works demonstrate his feeling for history and period detail, as well as a genius for resuscitating fragments considered beyond repair. Scouring antique markets, the Internet, and excavation sites, he creates hybridized assemblages from the worthless wreckage of conspicuous consumption, including “memory jars” in which broken bits of Delftware inhabit the glass ghosts of their original forms and a map of Holland rendered in white Delftware recovered from a rubbish pit. This exhibition centers on the astounding War & Pieces, an installation that re- creates 18th-century pre-battle banquets and their lavish sugar and por­celain sculptures, but with a twist: on this strategically set table, past and present come to blows in a satirical face-off that pits timeless porcelain against throw-away plastic, the beautiful against the crude. The irony continues in Kalashnikov, in which cutlery takes on ominous overtones, revealing its true nature as a savage tool of violence and oppression.

Web site:

Bouke de Vries, War & Pieces.
HangarBicocca, Milan: Petrit Halilaj
Through March 13, 2016
Petrit Halilaj, She, fully turning around, became terrestria Halilaj’s installations, drawings, and films translate personal and collective memories into the changed reality of the present day by giving them a new context and an updated, often magnified, meaning. With subtle empathy, he examines such charged issues as homeland and identity through recent events in southeastern Europe, particularly the Kosovo War. Though based in individual experience, his works approach the universal, their small narratives growing outward into a larger materialization of the world. Like Halilaj’s stories, his materials are simple: earth, straw, wood, concrete, and the rubble from his destroyed family home. But he also draws on exhibits from the defunct Natural History Museum in Pristina, Kosovo, re-staging parts of the dismantled collection (which Halilaj found moldering in storage) as alternative repositories of a country’s (natural) history, population, and culture. His first solo show in Italy brings together a wide range of projects, creating an evocative installation that reimagines the past for the future.

Web site

Petrit Halilaj, She, fully turning around, became terrestria.

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, U.K.: Christine Kozlov
Through February 21, 2016
Christine Kozlov, No Title (Transparent Film #2) An important player in New York’s conceptual art scene, Kozlov, who moved to the U.K. in 1977 and died in 2005, explored how knowledge is documented, processed, and communicated. Using materials associated with information-gathering and empirical research, including graph paper, photographic film, and audio tapes, she turned the utilitarian and the objective into tools of inquiry and uncertainty. Drawing on neuroscience and the study of human behavior, her sculptures, which range from books to typed paper sheets and musical notations, probe the limits of technology and the life­span of information—questions with renewed relevance today. Often remade and overwritten, her works blur the boundary between original and copy, negating any concept of genuine versus fake. “Information,” the first exhibition devoted to Kozlov’s work, unites her sculptures with their copies, archival material, and photographic documentation to address the changing nature of sculpture’s concern with material, space, time, and encounter, our experience of an object and its imagined conceptual content.

Web site

Christine Kozlov, No Title (Transparent Film #2).
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, U.K.: Katrina Palmer
Through February 21, 2016
Katrina Palmer, The Fabricator’s Tale (Blood-Bespattered Table) Palmer treats writing and amplified sound as sculpture, working with fragmented narratives to prompt physical and psychological interactions with objects. Her stories take the form of books, her exhibitions fill buildings with sound, performances, and readings, and in both the city and the landscape, she creates site-specific walks guided by audio tracks. Rooted in impeccable research, these projects explore real and imagined sites, weaving together fact and fiction. The Necropolitan Line, her new installation, inverts the traditional definition of sculpture as material occupying space. Taking her starting point from Cross Bones Graveyard in Borough (an unconsecrated medieval burial ground for women, then paupers, that closed in 1853) and the London Necropolis Railway (a direct connection between Waterloo station and Brookwood Cemetery, the epitome of 19th-century burial innovation), Palmer has cut a railway platform through the institute’s galleries, enticing visitors to depart on various journeys through dimly lit spaces filled with fragmented chronicles. In this consideration of death and decay, the body and the dispersal of matter, sculpture occupies nothing but absence and negative space.

Web site

Katrina Palmer, The Fabricator’s Tale (Blood-Bespattered Table).
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC: Shana Lutker
Through February 15, 2016
Shana Lutker, La Closed L’Eyes After countless exhibitions devoted to the Surrealist object, the marvelous threatens to become the mundane. The Hirshhorn, however, has found an inspired way to restore the frisson, accompanying its exhibition of Surrealist sculpture (also on view through February 15) with an installation by a contemporary artist obsessed with 1920s Paris, the creative process, the subconscious, and the uncanny. Lutker’s Le ‘NEW’ Monocle, Chapters 1–3 channels the hotbed of creative energy that roiled through the Surrealist milieu, sparking radical artistic innovation, as well as outbreaks of physical violence in defense of ideology and personal honor. Adapting classic Surrealist strategies of juxtaposition, her stage-like installations employ unexpected sculptural elements—like a crinkled lead curtain—as props and actors in dramatic mis-en-scènes that conjure the atmosphere and circumstances of Surrealism’s famous brawls. Though based in historical research, Lutker’s lively and evocative settings result from deep personal engagement, and perhaps identification, drawing on dreams, memory, and chance encounters to exert a powerful pull on the hidden dimensions of the imagination.

Web site

Shana Lutker, La Closed L’Eyes.
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany: Jeppe Hein
Through March 13, 2016
Jeppe Hein, I DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING BUT I’M OPEN FOR EVERYTHING While Hein’s work seems to belong to the continuum of the Minimalist tradition, his geometrically refined objects and installations go against the grain, setting up incongruous dialogues with the viewer. Moving walls, mirrored theaters, shaking cubes, gravity-defying kinetic sculptures, and modified functional constructions redefine indoor and outdoor space while perplexing even the most willing participants. As playful as they might seem, these triggered sculptural encounters deny the uncomplicated pleasures of “recreational” art, replacing fun with a more problematic dynamic that occasionally verges on the perilous. Despite the clear-cut title, “This Way,” Hein’s first major German survey, is all about ambiguity, as the museum transforms into a labyrin­thine maze filled with dead ends, baffling crossings, and no clear exit. The only signposts come in the form of Hein’s works, both familiar and new. Conceived as an antidote for the automatic pilot that guides us through most of our lives, “This Way” offers no ready answers, only resonant experiences that relocate contentment in the unknown and the unpredictable.  

Web site

Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis: Raqs Media Collective
Through February 14, 2016
Raqs Media Collective, If the World is a Fair Place Then…(detail); Formed in 1992, New Delhi-based Raqs (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta) started as a way for its founders to pursue documentary film-making, but its reach expanded into a larger sphere at Documenta 11 (2002). Since then, the collective has created highly compelling installations that still make use of film while engaging in progressively more complex and poetic conversations between video or still images and text, sound, software, performance, sculpture, and found objects. Displaying a sustained ambivalence toward modernity, these hybrid works refuse most of its organizing principles, including progress and development. Art in the Age of Collective Intelligence, an indoor installation, consists of a series of photographs and a constructed library of books expanding on Raqs’ preoccupation with change from the inside. Shadowy layers and alterations examine ideas of “fairness” and “unfairness”—an investigation that continues outdoors with If the World is a Fair Place Then…, a commissioned work that combines individual response and the polyphony of the crowd. Inspired by more than 500 endings to that dangling statement, 40 stainless steel bands encircling tree trunks along Laumeier’s Art Hike Trail trace a zone of possibility, dissent, and unexpected intimacy.

Web site

Raqs Media Collective, If the World is a Fair Place Then… (detail)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles: Diana Thater
Through February 21, 2016
Diana Thater, Chernobyl Thater’s huge video installations, which she calls “sculptures with images of nature in space,” analyze the complexities of the natural world and how they relate to human beings. An environmental activist as well as artist, she uses moving images of nature to dissolve architectural spaces and break down our dominant subject/object attitude toward the rest of the world. “The Sympathetic Imagination,” her first comprehensive U.S. museum survey, features 22 works from the early 1990s to the present that weave together a wide variety of source material, including literature, magic, animal behavior, mathematics, chess, and sociology. Exploring past and present, fact and fiction, illusion and reality, Thater’s evocative and layered imagery establishes an ambiguous zone of awe and pleasure, where intimacy and estrangement, self and other, merge and immerse human beings and their creations in a complex web of relationships across time and space.

Web site

Diana Thater, Chernobyl
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo: Takashi Murakami
Through March 6, 2016
Takashi Murakami, Flame of Desire—Gold 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. His first large-scale exhibition in Japan in 14 years centers on The 500 Arhats—a 100-meter-long painting created to thank Qatar for its assistance in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Tsunami (2011)—as well as a number of new works that follow the ongoing evolution of his anime alter ego, including two recent large-scale sculptures (one still in production after nearly 10 years). In conjunction with the Mori exhibition and on view through March 6, 2016, the Yokohama Museum of Art is presenting selections from Murakami’s personal collection of contemporary art, antiquities, contemporary ceramics, and folk art and craft, an idiosyncratic juxtaposition of objects and styles that rebrands the notorious practices of American collector Albert C. Barnes as the epitome of the Superflat philosophy.

Web site

Takashi Murakami, Flame of Desire—Gold.
Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York: Liza Lou
Through February 21, 2016
Liza Lou, Color Field (detail). Lou’s early work “celebrates a victory over the wrecking ball of the ordinary,” transforming daily “life into a retina-squelching vision that makes your eyes ache.” Behind their seductive, and painstakingly created, glittering, beaded surfaces, works such as Kitchen, Back Yard, and Trailer probed the hidden corners of American cultural values, using labor-intensive craft as a metaphor for and a means to transcend the mundane and the squalid. Since winning a MacArthur genius award in 2002, the political content of her work has become more indirect, filtered through a spiritual and “mythical” approach to beading processes learned while working with a team of Zulu women in Durban, South Africa. (In 2005, Lou established a studio in Durban, recruiting unemployed artisans as beadwork collaborators.) Her new, and largest work to date, Color Field, which took an earlier form in South Africa, carpets a 1,400-square-foot area with a shimmering expanse of brilliant color. The effect is one of sheer beauty, but Lou’s convictions are worked into the very structure of this abstract grid: beads as symbols of solidarity linking the values of feminism, hand-making, and physical labor.

Web site

Liza Lou, Color Field (detail).

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