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March 2016
Vol. 35 No. 2

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.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston: Diane Simpson
Through March 27, 2016
Diane Simpson, Vest (Scalloped). Using a variety of industrial and everyday materials, Simpson creates finely crafted and minimal sculptures derived from mundane objects, including clothing and fabric, architectural detailing, and domestic tools. She schematizes these sources in drawings, laying the groundwork for reconstituted forms that retain the skewed perspective of their original diagrams. Hybridizing clothing and buildings, Simpson distills their common goal of containing human­kind. The result of a rigorous approach to construction, these seemingly effortless works—sometimes humorous, sometimes psychologically charged—revel in passages of pattern and joinery. This survey features sculptures from the early 1980s through the present, accompanied by a suite of preparatory drawings.

Web site:

Diane Simpson, Vest (Scalloped).
Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid: Luciano Fabro
Through April 12, 2016
Petrit Halilaj, She, fully turning around, became terrestria Among those artists affiliated with Arte Povera, Fabro (who died in 2007) maintained the strongest connection to Italy’s venerable, sometimes stifling, past, rooting the urgency of the new within a foundation of time and history. Not surprisingly, he was also the first to be seduced by that most forbidden of materials, marble. While his early works, such as environmental measuring devices in steel and copper tubing, possessed a Euclidian spareness and logic, his vocabulary gradually expanded to include mirrors, silk, blown glass, and porphyry, all used to reconsider questions of classical sculpture: weight, equilibrium, proportion. This exhibition, the first since his death, features more than 60 works that demonstrate the singularity of Fabro’s radical vision. Highlights include Piedi—a Mannerist bestiary of gigantic, gorgeously grotesque feet made from glass, copper, bronze, aluminum, brass, and marble supporting legs encased in silk, which enacts a metamorphosis of pedestal and sculpture, object and architecture while flouting Arte Povera’s rigid sumptuary laws (Fabro justified his indulgence as homage to Italian craftspeople)—and Lo Spirito, which appears here for the first time outside Italy. The negative of Mantegna’s Dead Christ, Lo Spirito offers the ghost of a male body, its invisible form shaped by clinging folds of fabric exquisitely rendered in marble. Two inscriptions reinforce the erasure of identity and the paradox at the core of Fabro’s work: “From the Full to the Empty without any solution of continuity”; “I represent the obstruction of the object in the vanity of ideology.”

Web site

Luciano Fabro, Piedi.

Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid: Danh Vo
Through March 28, 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

Danh Vo, Banish the Faceless/Reward Your Grace.
Museo Universitario Art Contemporáneo, Mexico City: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Through March 27, 2016
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Vicious Circular Breathing One of the most important media artists to emerge in the 1990s, Mexican-born, Montreal-based Lozano-Hemmer probes the politics of public space (both real and virtual) while calling into question unexamined assumptions about democracy and freedom. Using interactive technologies as a means to link bodily mechanics (touch, sight, breath, hearing, and movement) with carefully chosen mechanized equivalents, his works physically manifest the invisible, and sometimes deliberately obscured, influences swaying both individual action and the course of the body politic. “Pseudomatisms,” his first museum exhibition in Mexico, features 42 installations employing video, robotics, computerized surveillance, and sound that challenge the Surrealist notion of automatism by demonstrating how any pretension of autonomy in a machine universe can be nothing more than a simulation within the program: actions are no longer voluntary, but “almost-voluntary” and always made “in relation to” underlying biases written into the system—the only escape lies in an awareness of the manipulations.

Web site

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Vicious Circular Breathing.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC: Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World
Through March 20, 2016
Hellenistic bronze male torso, from “Power and Pathos.” The most telling object in this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition doesn’t depict a god or a ruler, an idealized or grotesque human form; in fact, it isn’t even cast in bronze. But a nondescript, broken chunk of limestone from Corinth bears effective witness to a lost world, testifying to a magnitude of riches we can only imagine. Like countless other empty bases in such legendary sites as Olympia, this stone (signed by the renowned Lysippos) once supported a bronze sculpture—most of them long gone, melted down for weapons or new works. Scholars estimate that the Hellenistic period (late 4th century BCE to 1st century CE) produced bronze sculptures by the thousands, everything from ornamental domestic statuettes to the 30-meter-high Colossus of Rhodes; from that number, only the smallest fraction remain—and many of them are in this show. From archaizing copies of cult statues to extraordinarily detailed portrait heads (some retaining inlaid eyes, copper eyelashes and lips), from Etruscan statesmen to athletes, citizens, and urchins, “Power and Pathos” captures the many faces of bronze sculpture across the Mediterranean world, including two celebrated finds that fueled the Renaissance—the Medici Riccardi Horse and the Idolino—each work, no matter its condition, a small miracle of survival.

Web site

Hellenistic bronze male torso, from “Power and Pathos.”.
New Museum, New York: Pia Camil
Through April 17, 2016
Pia Camil, The little dog laughed. Camil draws inspiration from the inner-city landscape of her native Mexico City and from the history of Modernism. Her sculptures, performances, and installations expose the inherent problems and latent possibilities within urban ruin, exploring what she calls the “aesthetization of failure.” From hand-dyed and sewn curtains that recall abandoned billboards to recent projects incorporating ceramic vessels and structural fragments, her works transform the remnants of a dysfunctional commercial culture into theatrical environments of shifting viewpoints and juxtapositions. Her new installation, A Pot for a Latch, adapts modular display systems to create a succession of wall panels with built-on hooks, shelves, and other fixtures. Composed of grids, lines, and geometric shapes, the structure forms a volumetric template that fuses cheap commercial construction with the serial patterning of Sol LeWitt and Agnes Martin. But that’s only the starting point: taking her cue from the Native American potlatch—a gift-giving ceremony and system of wealth redistribution—Camil invites visitors to bring and exchange contributions, thereby transforming the gallery into a “shop” in which personal history and significance, and not monetary value, determine the currency of an object.  

Web site

Pia Camil, The little dog laughed..
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Through April 3, 2016
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits. One of the most significant artists to emerge from post-Revolutionary Cuba, Campos-Pons has devoted her career to questions of race, class, and cultural hybridism in African diasporic communities. Reassembling fragments of lost traditions and symbols, and memories of personal and collective history, religion, and mythology, her installations and performances balance the beauties and liabilities of cross-cultural identity. Her new installation, Alchemy of the Soul—a collaboration with her husband, musician and composer Neil Leonard—is no exception. This semi-autobiographical exploration of the Cuban sugar trade (Campos-Pons grew up in a sugar plantation town, and both the African and Chinese members of her family worked in the industry as slaves and indentured servants) flings a multi-sensory assault at viewers from the minute they step out of a freight elevator and into a viscerally powerful visual and auditory dream in which the sweet smell of rum animates a host of syrupy blown-glass distillery vessels.

Web site

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits.
Tate Britain, London: Susan Philipsz
Through April 3, 2016
Susan Philipsz, War Damaged Musical Instruments. Originally a sculptor in the traditional sense and the first sound artist to win the Turner Prize, Philipsz has received worldwide attention for installations that use the voice (human and instrumental) to trace invisible connections between the audible and the spatial. Her new work, War Damaged Musical Instruments, which continues an exploration begun in The Missing String (Kunstsammlung, 2014), features 14 recordings of British and German brass and wind instruments des­troyed in conflicts over the last 200 years. Battered, riddled with bullet holes, and twisted out of shape, these survivors are still able to make music; their individual recorded voices coalesce in a haunting tonal version of the military bugle call “The Last Post,” a tune that drew lost and wounded soldiers back to base (and is used today as a final farewell). Spatially fractured and almost unrecognizable, the sound sequence travels the length of the Duveen galleries, outlining a moving story of tension, harmony, and physical disorientation, conflict and loss.

Web site

Susan Philipsz, War Damaged Musical Instruments (Detail).
Tate Modern, London: Abraham Cruzvillegas
Through April 3, 2016
Abraham Cruzvillegas, Empty Lot (Detail) 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 raw energy that pervades his work typically re-creates the chaotic life of Mexico City’s streets, flirting with popular culture, advertising, and flea markets, but Empty Lot, his new installation for Turbine Hall, casts a critical eye on London. Like his long-running project Autoconstrucción, or self-construction, Empty Lot operates as a metaphor for individual identity and the unfinished, changing character of place, though the message here registers as a protest, almost a rebellion, against first world values, injecting at least a semblance of revitalizing volatility into a city stifled by wealth—a sense only reinforced by the work’s earlier title, Tierra y Libertad. A monumental “guerilla garden,” constructed of 240 wooden planters filled with 23 tons of soil donated by 33 of the city’s boroughs, Empty Lot throws improvisation into the face of planning and devel­opment. Deliberately avoiding the temptation to make “something nice to see,” Cruzvillegas planted nothing himself, instead providing a blank slate to nurture random (weedy) volunteers and the contributions of “seed bombers” (the soil is watered regularly)—an optimistic statement of his faith that creative life can take hold in even the most barren of environments.

Web site

Abraham Cruzvillegas, Empty Lot (Detail).

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