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sculpture

April 2012
Vol. 31 No. 3
A publication of the
International Sculpture Center
www.sculpture.org
Nina Levy
New Realisms
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I would like to begin by recognizing Olga Hirshhorn, the recipient of
the International Sculpture Centers 2012 Patron Award. On February 3,
in Naples, Florida, we honored this remarkable woman, who has devoted
her life to the appreciation and preservation of art and represents the
best qualities of an arts patron. Hirshhorn, who winters in Naples, and
whose late husband Joseph H. Hirshhorn was the founding donor
of the museum now bearing the Hirshhorn name in Washington, is an
avid collector. She continues to be an active and valued member of
the art community.
In business, companies are most successful when they collaborate,
increasing productivity, inspiring innovation, and ultimately growing
much faster. The same applies to any organization, and our ISConnects
program is a classic example of how collaboration impacts success. An
exciting collaborative effort pairing the ISC and other arts organizations,
ISConnects programming explores unique perspectives on contemporary
sculpture. Together, the ISC and its partner organizations offer intimate
and accessible programs that address cutting- edge, timely trends in
sculpture through lively and insightful discourse.
ISConnects has been successful because it offers interesting events
that address a broad range of issues impacting sculpture and that
appeal to a range of audiences. These programs unlock the potential
of the ISC to be a catalyst for advancing contemporary sculpture.
Between September and December 2011, approximately 260 people
attended ISConnects panel discussions, exhibition tours, and artist lec-
tures. Organizations such as the Museum of Arts and Design, Grounds
For Sculpture, Moore College of Art and Design, and Princeton
University have partnered with the ISC to develop innovative programs
that appeal to a wide range of audiences.
These programs have produced tremendous results. Audiences enjoyed
the smaller-scale events, which allowed more interaction with panelists,
speakers, and artists and provided networking opportunities. ISConnects
programs feature emerging and established artists, journalists and
authors, academics and arts administrators. ISC award winners and other
individuals with unique viewpoints on sculpture have also participated.
Our 2012 programs promise to be even more successful. There will be
new events at each of the 2011 locations, and additional programs at the
National Academy Museum and School in New York City, the Kaneko and
the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska, and the
Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Advance registration for ISConnects programs is required, and tickets can
be purchased on-line at <www.sculpture.org>.
Programs like ISConnects are just some of the ways in which the ISC
is striving to champion the creation and understanding of sculpture
and its unique, vital contribution to society.
Marc LeBaron
Chairman, ISC Board of Trustees
From the Chairman
4 Sculpture 31.3
ISC Board of Trustees
Chairman: Marc LeBaron, Lincoln, NE
Chakaia Booker, New York, NY
Robert Edwards, Naples, FL
Bill FitzGibbons, San Antonio, TX
Ralfonso Gschwend, Switzerland
Paul Hubbard, Philadelphia, PA
Ree Kaneko, Omaha, NE
Gertrud Kohler-Aeschlimann, Switzerland
Creighton Michael, Mt. Kisco, NY
Prescott Muir, Salt Lake City, UT
George W. Neubert, Brownville, NE
F. Douglass Schatz, Potsdam, NY
Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, Iceland
Boaz Vaadia, New York, NY
Philipp von Matt, Germany
Chairmen Emeriti: Robert Duncan, Lincoln, NE
John Henry, Chattanooga, TN
Peter Hobart, Italy
Josh Kanter, Salt Lake City, UT
Robert Vogele, Hinsdale, IL
Founder: Elden Tefft, Lawrence, KS
Lifetime Achievement in
Contemporary Sculpture Recipients
Magdalena Abakanowicz
Fletcher Benton
Louise Bourgeois
Anthony Caro
Elizabeth Catlett
John Chamberlain
Eduardo Chillida
Christo & Jeanne-Claude
Mark di Suvero
Richard Hunt
Phillip King
William King
Manuel Neri
Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen
Nam June Paik
Arnaldo Pomodoro
Gio Pomodoro
Robert Rauschenberg
George Rickey
George Segal
Kenneth Snelson
Frank Stella
William Tucker
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Departments
16 Itinerary
22 Commissions
80 ISC News
Reviews
67 Boise, Idaho: Mike Rathbun
68 West Hollywood: Andrea Zittel
70 Hudson, New York: La Wilson
70 New York: Marisa Merz
71 New York: Yukata Sone
72 Queens, New York: James O. Clark and
Forrest Myers
73 Utica, New York: Jongsun Lee
74 Marfa, Texas: Bettina Landgrebe
75 Ottawa: Jinny Yu
75 Berlin: Wilhelm Mundt
76 Jerusalem: Micha Ullman
77 London: Shirazeh Houshiary
78 Santiago and Buenos Aires: Sofia Donovan
79 Hong Kong: Art Hong Kong 11
On the Cover: Nina Levy, Boy With Fist, 2011.
Archival digital C-print, 24 x 18 in. Photograph:
Courtesy the artist and Salamatina Gallery.
Features
24 Nina Levy: Compelling Discomfort by Jan Riley
28 Li Wei: Pursuing Figuration in the 21st Century by Jonathan Goodman
34 Brilliant Rubbish: A Conversation with Robert Cherry by Roger Boyce
38 Simple Simply Isnt: A Conversation with Peter Shelton by Marlena Doktorczyk-Donohue
46 Making Art Visible for Everyone: A Conversation with Athena Tacha by Heleni Polichronatou
52 Antipodean Treasure: Connells Bay Sculpture Park by Robin Woodward
38
sculpture
April 2012
Vol. 31 No. 3
A publication of the
International Sculpture Center
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Sculpture April 2012 5
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S CUL PT URE MAGAZ I NE
Editor Glenn Harper
Managing Editor Twylene Moyer
Editorial Assistants Elena Goukassian, Joshua Parkey
Design Eileen Schramm visual communication
Advertising Sales Manager Brenden OHanlon
Contributing Editors Maria Carolina Baulo (Buenos
Aires), Roger Boyce (Christchurch), Susan Canning (New
York), Marty Carlock (Boston), Jan Garden Castro (New
York), Collette Chattopadhyay (Los Angeles), Ina Cole
(London), Ana Finel Honigman (Berlin), John K. Grande
(Montreal), Kay Itoi (Tokyo), Matthew Kangas (Seattle),
Zoe Kosmidou (Athens), Angela Levine (Tel Aviv), Brian
McAvera (Belfast), Robert C. Morgan (New York), Robert
Preece (Rotterdam), Brooke Kamin Rapaport (New
York), Ken Scarlett (Melbourne), Peter Selz (Berkeley),
Sarah Tanguy (Washington), Laura Tansini (Rome)
Each issue of Sculpture is indexed in The Art Index and
the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA).
isc
Benefactors Circle ($100,000+)
Atlantic Foundation
Karen & Robert Duncan
John Henry
J. Seward Johnson, Jr.
Johnson Art & Education Foundation
Joshua S. Kanter
Kanter Family Foundation
Gertrud & Heinz Kohler-Aeschlimann
Marc LeBaron
Lincoln Industries
National Endowment for the Arts
Mary OShaughnessy
I.A. OShaughnessy Foundation
Estate of John A. Renna
Jon & Mary Shirley Foundation
Dr. & Mrs. Robert Slotkin
Bernar Venet
Chairmans Circle ($10,00049,999)
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Anonymous Foundation
Janet Blocker
Blue Star Contemporary Art Center
Debra Cafaro & Terrance Livingston
Chelsea College of Art & Design
Sir Anthony Caro
Clinton Family Fund
Richard Cohen
Don Cooperman
David Diamond
Jarvis & Constance Doctorow Family Foundation
Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
Terry & Robert Edwards
Lin Emery
Fred Eychaner
Carole Feuerman
Doris & Donald Fisher
Bill FitzGibbons
Alan Gibbs
David Handley
Richard Heinrich
Daniel A. Henderson
Michelle Hobart
Peter C. Hobart
Joyce & Seward Johnson Foundation
KANEKO
Ree & Jun Kaneko
Mary Ann Keeler
Keeler Foundation
Phillip King
William King
Anne Kohs Associates
Cynthia Madden Leitner/Museum of Outdoor Arts
Toby D. Lewis Philanthropic Fund
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Marlborough Gallery
Patricia Meadows
Creighton Michael
Barrie Mowatt
Manuel Neri
New Jersey Cultural Trust
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Frances & Albert Paley
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Pat Renick Gift Fund
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Russ Rubert
Salt Lake Art Center
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June & Paul Schorr, III
Judith Shea
Armando Silva
Kenneth & Katherine Snelson
STRETCH
Mark di Suvero
Takahisa Suzuki
Aylin Tahincioglu
Steinunn Thorarinsdottir
Tishman Speyer
Brian Tune
University of the Arts London
Boaz Vaadia
Robert E. Vogele
Georgia Welles
Elizabeth Erdreich White
Address all editorial correspondence to:
Sculpture
1633 Connecticut Avenue NW, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: 202.234.0555, fax 202.234.2663
E-mail: gharper@sculpture.org
Sculpture On-Line on the International
Sculpture Center Web site:
www.sculpture.org
Advertising information
E-mail <advertising@sculpture.org>
I NT E RNAT I ONAL SCUL PT URE CE NT E R CONT E MPORARY SCUL PT URE CI RCL E
The International Sculpture Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization
that provides programming and services supported by contributions, grants,
sponsorships, and memberships.
The ISC Board of Trustees gratefully acknowledges the generosity of our
members and donors in our Contemporary Sculpture Circle: those who have
contributed $350 and above.
I NT E RNAT I ONAL S CUL PT URE CE NT E R
Executive Director Johannah Hutchison
Office Manager Denise Jester
Executive Assistant Alyssa Brubaker
Membership Manager Julie Hain
Web Manager Karin Jervert
Grant Writer/Development Coordinator Kara Kaczmarzyk
Conference and Events Coordinator Samantha Rauscher
Membership Associate Emily Fest
Administrative Associate Jeannette Darr
ISC Headquarters
19 Fairgrounds Road, Suite B
Hamilton, New Jersey 08619
Phone: 609.689.1051, fax 609.689.1061
E-mail: isc@sculpture.org
Major Donors ($50,00099,999)
Chakaia Booker
Fletcher Benton
Erik & Michele Christiansen
Rob Fisher
Richard Hunt
Robert Mangold
Fred & Lena Meijer
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
New Jersey State Council on the Arts
Pew Charitable Trust
Arnaldo Pomodoro
Walter Schatz
William Tucker
Nadine Witkin, Estate of Isaac Witkin
Mary & John Young
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About the ISC
The International Sculpture Center is a member-supported, nonprofit organization
founded in 1960 to champion the creation and understanding of sculpture and
its unique and vital contribution to society. The mission of the ISC is to expand
public understanding and appreciation of sculpture internationally, demonstrate
the power of sculpture to educate and effect social change, engage artists and
arts professionals in a dialogue to advance the art form, and promote a support-
ive environment for sculpture and sculptors. The ISC values: our constituents
Sculptors, Institutions, and Patrons; dialogueas the catalyst to innovation and
understanding; educationas fundamental to personal, professional, and soci-
etal growth; and communityas a place for encouragement and opportunity.
Membership
ISC membership includes subscriptions to Sculpture and Insider; access to
International Sculpture Conferences; free registration in Portfolio, the ISCs
on-line sculpture registry; and discounts on publications, supplies, and services.
International Sculpture Conferences
The ISCs International Sculpture Conferences gather sculpture enthusiasts
from all over the world to network and dialogue about technical, aesthetic,
and professional issues.
Sculpture Magazine
Published 10 times per year, Sculpture is dedicated to all forms of contemporary
sculpture. The members edition includes the Insider newsletter, which contains
timely information on professional opportunities for sculptors, as well as a list
of recent public art commissions and announcements of members accomplish-
ments.
www.sculpture.org
The ISCs award-winning Web site <www.sculpture.org> is the most comprehensive
resource for information on sculpture. It features Portfolio, an on-line slide
registry and referral system providing detailed information about artists and their
work to buyers and exhibitors; the Sculpture Parks and Gardens Directory, with
listings of over 250 outdoor sculpture destinations; Opportunities, a membership
service with commissions, jobs, and other professional listings; plus the ISC
newsletter and extensive information about the world of sculpture.
Education Programs and Special Events
ISC programs include the Outstanding Sculpture Educator Award, the Outstanding
Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards, and the Lifetime
Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture and gala. Other special events
include opportunities for viewing art and for meeting colleagues in the field.
Directors Circle ($5,0009,999)
This issue is supported
in part by a grant from
the National Endowment
for the Arts.
This program is made possible in
part by funds from the New Jersey
State Council on the Arts/Department
of State, a Partner Agency of the
National Endowment for the Arts.
555 International Inc.Ruth AbernethyLinda Ackley-EakerD. James Adams
John AdduciOsman AkanMine AkinElizabeth AraliaMichelle Armitage
Art ValleyUluhan AtacGordon B AuchinclossMichael AurbachHelena
Bacardi-KielySarah Barnhart-FieldsBrooke BarrieJerry Ross BarrishCarlos
BasantaFatma Basoglu-TakiiilBruce BeasleyJoseph BechererEdward
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Constance BergforsEvan BerghanRonald BermanRoger BerryHenri
BertrandCindy BillingsleyDenice BizotRita BlittChristian BoltMarina
BonomiGilbert V. BoroLouise BourgeoisLinda BowdenJudith Britain
Walter BruszewskiGil BruvelHal BucknerRuth M. BurinkH. Edward
BurkeMaureen Burns-BowieKeith BushMary Pat ByrnePattie ByronImel
Sierra CabreraKati CasidaDavid CaudillJan ChenowethWon Jung Choi
Asherah CinnamonJohn ClementJonathan ClowesRobert ClyattMarco
CochraneLynda ColeAustin CollinsRandy CooperJ. Laurence Costin
Fuller Cowles & Constance MayeronRobert CrowelAmir DaghighSukhdev
DailTomasz DanilewiczArianne DarErich DavisMartin DawePaul A.
DeansArabella DeckerAngel DelgadoG.S. DemirokBruce DempseyAlbert
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For more than 40 years, sculptors have been at the forefront of
environmental and ecological/social innovation, making works that
treat the earth as creative partner rather than resource and raw
material. The new earthwork, which is currently at the leading edge of
sculptural practice, means art for the future of humanity and the
planet; it means a new approach to aesthetics and the role of art in our
lives; it means a sustainable and vital artistic practice that not only
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Jordan, Maya Lin, Natalie Jeremijenko, and many more.
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16 Sculpture 31.3
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Coolsingel
|c||e|ocm
Elmgreen and Dragset
||co| |c, .3, .o:.
Last year, Elmgreen and Dragset
transformed Rotterdams former sub-
marine wharf (an industrial cavern
rivaling Tate Moderns Turbine Hall)
into an apocalyptic vision of urban
decay blurring the line between art
and real life. || |e.e| cc |c|e |c
c, c||,, their project in the public
square of the Coolsingel, continues
to target social conventions and
behavior. Installed in front of City
Hall and other bastions of official-
dom, the sculpture consists of a care-
fully designed display case contain-
ing a polished stainless steel mega-
phone. Every day at noon, a man
opens the case, takes out the mega-
phone, and bellows, Its never too
late to say sorry. Perhaps a power-
less gesture akin to the |cue||e
||o:|o|e with which the duo first
achieved notoriety, this staged
activist gesture offers at least the
hope that someone will step up and
highjack the proceedings, turning
the faux soapbox into a genuine
Speakers Corner.
Web site <www.
sculptureinternationalrotterdam.nl>
Dag Hammarskjld Plaza
|eu 'c||
Rachel Owens
||co| |c, ,:, .o:.
Given its locationManhattans
historic Gateway to the UN
Owenss |n.e|e|c|e tcmc|||cn |c|
t|c|e cant help but stage a protest.
Composed of disassembled parts
from two replica military Hummers
welded together into a monumental,
formless crash of a composition,
the sculpture captures the violent
energies that fuel humanitys
pathological need for strife. But this
self- contained pile of rubble alludes
to more than one type of discord.
Covered with metallic icy-white
paint, it also evokes a stranded ice-
berg. The haunting whale songs
emanating from its speakers provide
a different beat for the drums of
war, raising a universal cry of envi-
ronmental distress barely tempered
by optimism.
Web site <www.nyc.gov/parks>
Hammer Museum
|c /ne|e
Alina Szapocznikow
||co| /||| .), .o:.
Carlos Bunga
||co| /||| .., .o:.
Szapocznikow began her career in
the postwar period as a traditional
figurative sculptor, but she turned
to radical experimentation in the
1960s, pursuing a new language to
express changed conditions. Her
reconception of sculpture has left
behind a legacy of provocative
objectsat once sexualized, visceral,
humorous, and politicalthat sit
uneasily at the intersection of
Surrealism, Nouveau Ralisme, and
Pop Art. Tinted polyester resin casts
of lips and breasts transformed into
lamps and ashtrays, spongy poly-
urethane forms embedded with
casts of bellies or live grass, and resin
sculptures that incorporate found
photographs remain as biting and
original today as when they were
made. This exhibition features
extensive archival materials, as well
as more than 100 works, including
drawings and photographs, that
introduce a unique vision to a wider
audience.
In Bungas architecturally scaled
installations, mass-produced materi-
als such as cardboard, packing tape,
and house paint coalesce in impro-
vised structures that recall tempo-
itinerary
Above: Elmgreen and Dragset, Its
Never Too Late to Say Sorry. Top
right: Rachel Owens, Inveterate
Composition for Clare. Right: Alina
Szapocznikow, Tumors personified.
Bottom right: Carlos Bunga, instal-
lation view of Hammer Project.
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Sculpture April 2012 17
rary shelters or life-size models. With
their cheap materials and rapid con-
struction values, these works give
the lie to the illusion of permanence
that propels human undertaking.
Everything is subject to decay and
destruction, from buildings and
memorials to ideologies and shared
valuesas underscored by his
recent series of sand and cardboard
models of imaginary monuments
(shown at the XIV Carrara Biennale
last year). Bungas Hammer Project
features a new work made on site,
as well as a selection of drawings,
paintings, sculptures, and videos.
Tel: 310.443.7000
Web site
<www.hammer.ucla.edu>
Hayward Gallery
|cnocn
Jeremy Deller
||co| |c, :,, .o:.
Deller believes that theres enough
stuff in the world. Just as he rejects
objects (unless theyre repurposed
with a redeeming social function),
preferring to explore ideas through
collaborative endeavors, he also
resists the whole mystique of the
artist. Inevitably some critics ques-
tion whether he is an artist at all, but
leaving that pointless debate aside,
there is no denying that his theater
of therapy, as one 6oc|o|cn reader
calls it, makes people thinkoften
about things that theyd rather avoid.
This mid-career retrospective collects
a grab bag of free-ranging works that
have helped to rewrite the rules of
art. From |e 3c|||e c| 0||ec.e
a restaging of the 1984 showdown
between police and striking miners,
with the participation of those very
same Yorkshire policemen and min-
ersto social action parades and
the public discussions spawned by ||
| H|c| || | tcn.e|c||cn /|co|
||ca cross-country tour of the U.S.
with an Iraqi man, a U.S. solider,
and a car blown up by a Baghdad
bombDeller demonstrates that
politically engaged art can be
nuanced, open- ended, and far from
preachy. The show also features a
new, get-under-the-skin, 3-D film of
bats rising from their Texas cave (a
follow-up to his London bat house
project competition) and a unique
section called My Failures, a gallery
of never-realized ideasmany of
them brave and thought-provoking,
such as a proposed statue of David
Kelly appearing to jump from the
Fourth Plinth.
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7960 4200
Web site
<www.southbankcentre.co.uk>
Hirshhorn Museum and
Sculpture Garden
Hc||n|cn, |t
Suprasensorial: Experiments in
Light, Color and Space
||co| |c, :,, .o:.
Suprasensorialthe term comes
from Hlio Oiticicarewrites
the history of the Light and Space
movement, recognizing the pivotal
role played by Latin American
artists. A decade before Light and
Space emerged in late-60s
California, Lucio Fontana, Julio Le
Parc, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jess Rafael
Soto, and Oiticica (in collaboration
with Neville DAlmeida) were creat-
ing environments of light and color
that challenged traditional notions
of art as static experience. More
than just stunning perceptual inves-
tigations, their large-scale, multime-
dia works fused formal and social
concerns, bringing the work of art
down from its Olympian heights
and into the physical world of the
viewer. In the five rarely seen instal-
lations featured here, participation
is open to all, requiring no special
knowledgejust the ordinary abil-
ity to see, think, feel, and respond
in the face of transformative optical
effects that lead to experiences
beyond the aesthetic.
Tel: 202.633.1000
Web site
<http://hirshhorn.si.edu>
Kunsthaus Graz
6|c, /o|||c
Michael Kienzer
||co| |c, o, .o:.
Kienzer attempts to transform and
disrupt acquired viewing habits.
Vaguely familiar but altered beyond
easy recognition, his sculptures place
viewers in unusual circumstances
that upend everyday knowledge and
replace it with a strange comic logic.
This show revolves around a
large-scale work that covers the space
with traces of possible trajectories,
Top left: Jeremy Deller, The Battle of
Orgreave. Left: Michael Kienzer, Hal-
tung Vol. 8. Above: Jess Rafael
Soto, Blue Penetrable, from Supra-
sensorial.
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18 Sculpture 31.3

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imaginary routes followed by an out-
of-control line or ball. Adapted to fit
this new scenario, works from the
last 10 years display a degree of rel-
ativity unusual in objects. Miniature
then large, elusive then concrete,
sculptural reality becomes mutable
and directly subject to the presence
of the observer.
Tel: + 43 316/8017 9200
Web site <www.museum-
joanneum.at/de/kunsthaus>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein
/coo, ||e:||en|e|n
Bojan arcevic
||co| |c, o, .o:.
arcevics installations and sculptures
question the capability of art to con-
tribute anything essential to contem-
porary Western society. Alternating
between political engagement and
aesthetic retrenchment, he tries out
a variety of approaches, forms, and
sizes. Whether minimally spare or
ravishingly lush, miniature or mas-
sive, his work creates spaces of
atmospheric density, on the cusp
between fullness and emptiness,
materiality and dissolution, allusion
and precision. But even the lightest
and most ethereal of these creations
comes with an existential edge: ar-
cevic is also the creator of a wilder-
ness survival guide written in a Borat-
accented phonetic English and the
presenter of a report on Balkan-E.U.
geopolitical relations masquerading
as an exhibition catalogue. This
show features 15 pieces from the
last four years, including /| ||een|,
whose nine pointsfrom Are we
living in the most conformist phase
in modern history? to Why is it that
nowadays any possibility of social
protest is co-opted and absorbed?
add up to a virulent critique of a
passive and discredited culture.
Tel: + 423 235 03 00
Web site <www.kunstmuseum.li>
Mathaf: Arab Museum of
Modern Art
|c|c, c|c|
Cai Guo-Qiang
||co| |c, .o, .o:.
Saraab, the title of Cais first solo
show in the Middle East, means
mirage in Arabic. Inspired by the
longstanding ties between China
and the Arab world (dating back to
the ancient maritime Silk Road), this
exhibition of more than 50 works
explores the seafaring culture of the
Gulf and the Islamic history of Cais
hometown of Quanzhou. More than
an acknowledgement of the
ephemeral and illusory effects that
characterize some of his best-known
works, the title also alludes to the
difficulties of cultural, temporal, and
geographic translation, a seemingly
unobtainable goal in this fractured
world. Sixteen new commissions
include |cme:cm|n, a winding path
through 60 rocks taken from Quan-
zhou and carved with Arabic inscrip-
tions; gunpowder drawings fusing
maritime routes with Islamic botani-
cal motifs; and ||c||e, an 18-meter-
long porcelain and gunpowder
mural. Part historical and part per-
sonal pilgrimage, Saraab traces
new paths through the complex web
of conceptual and material ties that
bind two equally great, but radically
divergent traditions.
Tel: + 974.4402.8855
Web site <www.mathaf.org.qa>
MAXXI
|cme
Re-Cycle: Strategies of Architecture,
City, and Planet
||co| /||| .), .o:.
This exhibition takes the environ-
mental and economic benefits of
recycling as a given, shifting focus to
its catalytic potency as a generator
of creative innovation. Rome is a
strangely perfect host city for such a
show: Italian architects and designers
(unlike their counterparts in change-
obsessed cultures) can rarely build
from scratch and have little choice
but to retool and reshape a protected
(and often resented) architectural
legacyrecycled materials and sites
are much more than a niche practice
here. With a range of realized and
unrealized projects from around the
world, from early Frank Gehry and
Venturi Scott Brown efforts through
the High Line by James Corner and
Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Elisabetta
Terragnis pedestrian passage at the
Top left: Bojan arcevic, The Breath-
Taker is the Breath-Taker (Film C).
Left: Cai Guo-Qiang, Fragile (detail of
work in progress). Above: Fernando
and Humberto Campana, Maloca,
from Re-Cycle.
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Sculpture April 2012 19
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Museo Storico del Trentino, Miniwizs
Taipei EcoARK pavilion, and the other-
worldly soundscape realized by
Pierpaolo Perra and Alberto Antioco
Loche at an abandoned quarry in
Sardinia, Re-Cycle demonstrates the
endless potential offered by the aban-
doned, the decaying, and the out-
dated. Two site-specific interventions
by recycling masters Fernando and
Humberto Campana and raumlabor-
berlin transform leftovers, debris,
and recovered materials into sculp-
tural constructions that point the
way to new syntheses of art and
design, architecture, and landscape.
Tel: + 39 (0) 6 39967350
Web site
<www.fondazionemaxxi.it>
Nasher Sculpture Center
|c||c
Elliott Hundley
||co| /||| .., .o:.
Hundley draws on classical mythol-
ogy, art history, and current events
to create epic, theatrical environ-
ments. Beginning with photoshoots
of live actors, he transfers key dra-
matic moments and imagery to
two- and three-dimensional assem-
blages, intricately composed of paint,
photographs, and organic and
found materials (ranging from bam-
boo, goat hooves, and pine cones
to pins, magnifying lenses, and gold
leaf). Abstracted distillations of
emotion and action, his freestand-
ing compositions take center stage
in a fully imagined fictive world
that reflects and magnifies enduring
human dilemmas and conflicts.
Here, he brings contemporary life
to Euripedess |e 3c::|ce, a saga
of familial betrayal and divine
vengeance, fraught with ecstatic
pleasure, violence, and remorse.
Tel: 214.242.5100
Web site
<www.nashersculpturecenter.org>
Neuberger Museum of Art
|o|:|ce, |eu 'c||
Kiki Smith
||co| |c, o, .o:.
Best known for her depictions of the
human formin anatomical frag-
ments as well as full figuresSmith
has explored a broad range of sub-
ject matter, from religion, folklore,
and mythology to natural science,
art history, and feminism. Whether
realized as room-sized installations
or miniatures, her meditations on
the human condition display a mas-
tery of materials and their expres-
sive potential: bronze, beeswax, hair,
and papier mch become alter-
nately intimate, visceral, poignant,
or fragile invocations of the physi-
cal, philosophical, and social issues
of our times. Visionary Sugar fea-
tures new multimedia work, includ-
ing gilded sculptures and reliefs,
drawings, and tapestries that
expansively engage the natural
world, the spirit, and the cosmos,
offering a singular vision of an
earthly paradise.
Tel: 914.251.6100
Web site <www.neuberger.org>
Reykjavik Art Museum
|e,|c.||
Santiago Sierra
||co| /||| :,, .o:.
Sierras radical and poetic statements
focus on economic and power rela-
tions, especially repetitive routines
and the exchange value of labor.
Though critics accuse him of abusing
misery, his socially engaged works
shed a blinding light on accepted
norms of inequality and entitle-
ment. He has disassembled a truck
piece by piece only to reassemble
it in a gallery, invited visitors to
Hannovers Kestner Gesellschaft to
re- enact a Hitler- era work program
and spread 400 tons of mud, paid
prostitutes with heroin in exchange
for having lines tattooed on their
Top left: raumlaborberlin, Officina
Roma, from Re-Cycle. Center:
Elliott Hundley, swarming over.
Bottom: Santiago Sierra, NO.
Right: Kiki Smith, Harmonies II.
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backs while sitting in a line, and
hired laborers to push enormous
cement blocks in Sisyphean futility
and sit in cardboard boxes during
stifling heat. This show presents the
first complete showing of his films
and video documentation, as well
as the latest incarnation of his |0
global tour project. The monumen-
tal sculptural denialjust say no
turned anti- establishmenthas
a habit of showing up in the most
politically embarrassing locations,
rejecting complacency while issuing
an uncompromising fuck you to
hegemonic power structures.
Tel: + 354 590 1200
Web site <www.artmuseum.is>
Suyama Space
ec|||e
Rick Araluce and Steve Peters
||co| /||| :,, .o:.
A visual and sonic tour de force, |
|||n pays homage to the func-
tional bones of building systems. Like
Rogers and Pianos Centre Pompi-
dou, this collaborative installation
makes the invisible visible, freeing
infrastructure from its shadowy
confines; but here the focus is on
artistry not function. An elaborate
network of cast-iron plumbing pipes
takes center stage, emerging from
the recesses of floor, walls, and ceil-
ing in a surprisingly compelling
reminder of the care that craftsmen
once lavished on mundane, hidden
details (as opposed to PVC and
goop). But these apparent relics are
more than artifacts; in fact, they
are fakesmeticulously crafted
trompe loeil facsimiles crafted from
wood, plastic, foam, and paint.
Fascinated by the evocative beauty
of old construction, defunct tech-
nology, and disappearing rituals of
life, Araluce painstakingly conjures
the past, increasingly incorporating
sound. Here, Peters provides an
evocative acoustic atmosphere with
filtered sounds swooshing through
the pipes in a chorus of abstract
echoes.
Tel: 206.256.0809
Web site
<www.suyamapetersondeguchi.
com/art>
Rick Araluce and Steve Peters,
Uprising.
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0Avtu WtsMAn
Platanus bibliotechalis
West Hollywood, CA
When officials from the City of West Holly-
wood approached David Wiseman to
design a permanent installation for a new
library, he noticed that the architects had
created relief designs for the ceilings and
walls but left the staircaseconspicuously empty. It
was a perfect blank canvas to begin exploring various
ideas that referenced the architecture but also had
[their] own distinct narrative.
Taking its name from the Latin for sycamore of the library, Platanus bibliotechalis
climbs the atrium-like space of the stair, its branches sprawling across the skylight and
appearing to penetrate the walls. The idea of the ghosts of ancient indigenous species
emerging and disappearing through the walls seemed to fit the spirit of the space,
Wiseman explains. The ghostly white sycamore tree serves as a reminder of Los Angeles
Countys long-lost natural landscape. At the same time, it provides a link between
the library and the surrounding West Hollywood Park. In fact, Wiseman used bark chips
from nearby sycamores to stamp the porcelain that he later fired and used for the trunk
of his sculpture.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Platanus bibliotechalis lies in its approach
to materials. Very rarely does a sculptor create a permanent installation using porce-
lain, whose fragility denies longevity. Wiseman says that the dichotomy between
permanence and longevity plays an important conceptual role throughout the work,
playing out through the delicacy of the leaf clusters, lyrical branches, and seed pods
in contrast to massive limbs and trunk, the contrast in scale from minute to massive,
the contrast of concrete presence and ephemeral gestures. All this results in an ethe-
real, almost otherworldly, vision that introduces a ghost of nature into the built envi-
ronment.
knuAtt 8ustk
Topograph
San Francisco
One of five commissioned projects installed in the San Francisco International Airports
newly remodeled Terminal 2 last spring, Kendall Busters Topograph consists of two
conversant forms hanging from the ceiling and flanking a bridge-like passage above
the departures lobby. True to their name, the forms create a kind of landscape through
which travelers pass while walking across the bridge. Buster was particularly interested
in having viewers walk between fragments of a kind of ephemeral landscapea frag-
mented topography map.
Buster considered the viewers experience from all vantage points while also bearing
in mind the hustle and bustle of the airport. My first thoughts were about a form that
would participate in what I saw as rapidly and sequentially changing positions of viewer
to object, she explains. As one moves in relation to the work, whether looking from
above into the sculpture or from below, the planes seem to pivot. As the viewer moves,
the forms change, suggesting clouds dispersing or shifting landscapes.
Busters signature semi-transparent scrims stretched over steel tubing create forms
that operate like an apparition, allowing light to seep through and complementing the
architecture of the space. I have always liked the notion that fragments of the wall
or ceiling simply peeled away and transformed into the sculpture, she remarks. I was
interested in responding to what was a beautifully open, light-filled space.
Buster has a rare ability to create organic fusions of oppositesin the case of Topograph,
of the built and natural environments. She notes that the installation can be seen as land-
scape and architecture, a topographical map and a built environment. In the same vein,
she sets up other oppositions by making bold gestures with light and seemingly ephemeral
forms and pairing geometrically defined elements with the dynamic nature of the overall
forms. Whether walking under or between its forms, hurried travelers are sure to slow
down while passing through Topographs constantly fluctuating landscape.
22 Sculpture 31.3
commissions commissions
David Wiseman, Platanus biblio-
techalis, 2011. Plaster, bronze, and
porcelain, dimensions variable.
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luuwtkA 0ookztc
Breathing Cloud
Exeter, U.K.
Ludwika Ogorzelec has been developing
her Space Crystallization series for over
20 years, creating site-specific, temporary,
indoor and outdoor installations all over
the world. Taking the form of woven nets
or webs, these projects represent a shat-
tering of space into smaller components,
crystals whose purpose is to achieve a
new aesthetic and psychological state that
acts on the conscious and subconscious
mind of the observer.
Last October, Ogorzelec presented a new
incarnation of the space crystallizations at
Exeter Castle as part of the exhibition
Before the CrashArt and Science Col-
lide. Breathing Cloud stretched a large,
suspended net of woven cellophane strings
across the castle courtyard, just above the
heads of visitors. Like her previous space
crystallizations, this work attempted to rede-
fine the very space that it inhabited, trans-
porting viewers away from everyday life
and into a mysterious world above them.
Ogorzelec has always been taken with the
notion of showing the invisible in res-
ponse to what she calls the subjective
world of human creation. She seeks to com-
bine this intellectual world of the human
mind with the natural, scientific, or objec-
tive world: I want my sculpture to be like
a passing phenomenon springing out of the
world of biology, machines, and instru-
ments. By aestheticizing the convergence
of balance and tension, filled and unfilled
space, truth and absurdity, her sculptures
aim to stimulate human emotions while
instilling a sense of wonder. As she noted in
an interview with Italian art critic Camilla
Boemio, Science, any investigation of the
natural world, teaches humility. Ogorzelec
strives to pass along humility through
her work, ultimately, and most importantly,
reaching those who enter her world.
Elena Goukassian
Sculpture April 2012 23
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Above: Kendall Buster, Topograph, 2011. Powder-coated steel tubing and greenhouse shade cloth, 2
elements, 24 x 24 x 18 ft. and 24 x 24 x 14 ft. Below: Ludwika Ogorzelec, Breathing Cloud, 2011. Mixed
media, dimensions variable.
Juries are convened each month to select works for Commissions. Information on recently completed commissions, along with high-resolution
digital images (300 dpi at 4 x 5 in. minimum), should be sent to: Commissions, Sculpture, 1633 Connecticut Avenue NW, 4th Floor, Washington,
DC 20009. E-mail <elena@sculpture.org>.
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The exhibition Related Forms acted as a mini-retrospective for Nina Levy, displaying
sculptures and photographs from 1999 to 2011. Her controversial figurative works, dis-
played to great advantage in the long, open space of Salamatina Gallery (unexpectedly
set in a former Gap store in an upscale shopping mall in Manhasset, New York), caused
a stir among shoppers on their way to David Yurman or Prada. Levy has said of her work,
Ideally you want to make a piece that unravels over time and has multiple readings. I
think my starting point has always been about trying to play both sidesto make some-
thing beautiful and compellingbut that also has a discomforting subtext.
The works in Related Forms were all beautiful and compelling, and amply discom-
forting. Since the birth of her first son, Archer, in 2003, Levy has taken the dichotomy of
parenthood as her subject: [A baby] is both an extremely irrational, energetic, and uncon-
trollable person and a lovely, celebrated child. And parents are both charmed and terrified
at suddenly becoming wholly responsible for someone other than themselves. Levy has
chosen to deal with this dichotomy by using images of headless adults. In Husband and
Son (2006), she has sculpted her husband, Peter, standing easily, but without a head,
while Archer sits serenely unconcerned on his shoulders. In Portrait of my Son (2010),
Levy sculpted herself holding Ansel. She too is headless, but she carries Ansel, who is
fully supported by an ergonomic carrying sling.
As the children have grown, the parents have been granted headscovered by tiny T-
shirts. The little sleeves poke up like mismatched ears, and the overall effect is initially
comical. The levity fades rapidly, though, as somber features come into view under the
sculpted knit fabrics, and it becomes clear that the figures are not only blind and deaf
but also in danger of suffocation. Shirt Heads (2009) come most often only as heads,
but occasionally they have complete bodies, as in Shirt (2008), which portrays Peter
seated and cowled by a tiny T-shirt.
Levys newest body of work is a photographic series of her sons interacting with large
sculpted resin body parts. Boy with Fist (2011), Boy with Body (2011), and Boy with Arms
(2011) juxtapose small and fragile human bodies with oversize arms, hands, feet, and
Sculpture April 2012 25
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BY JAN RILEY
Opposite: Husband and Son, 2006. Polyester resin
and oil paint, 76.5 x 17 x 15 in. This page: Shirt
Heads, 2009. Polyester and automotive paint,
2 elements, approximately 12 x 11 x 10 in. each.
NINA LEVY
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heads. These pieces continue an earlier photographic series (1999
2004) in which Levy used herself as the model, altering her body
with the addition of sculpted prosthetic parts. She sees this earlier
series as a way of investigating self-image. What happens to her
image when she adds huge prosthetic lips opened in a fake smile?
How does the viewer make sense of the image? How do we make
sense of ourselves using only a mirror?
The impetus behind the new photographic pieces came from
observing her sons as they emulated characters from superhero
cartoons, donning articles of clothing (capes, hats) and acting
out fantasies of aggression. Levy says that when they posed for
the photographs with the prosthetics, they were completely dis-
interested in both the objects and the process. Physical images
of powerhuge arms and handshad little impact on them:
They didnt seem to wonder where their adult body parts were,
and they didnt seem to yearn for body parts that were different
from the ones they had. She finds it curious that her sons under-
stand adult musculature as a metaphor, and not as something
to attain: They dont feel disempowered because they dont have
adult physical power. Levy knows that these photographs are
her interpretation of what her sons are thinking about: They
have an entire internal world that I have no access to, and no
memory of, since I have never been a little boy. When I asked
how her sons reacted to the full-sized, freestanding sculptures of
26 Sculpture 31.3
Left: Portrait of My Son (view from back), 2010. Aquaresin and oil paint,
63 x 22 x 18 in. Above: Shirt, 2008. Ultracal and oil paint, 35 x 37 x 33 in.
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herself and her husband, she told me that Ansel wondered where Moms head
was but wasnt concerned beyond simple curiosity and that Archer told her
he has a head so he isnt concerned that she and Peter dont.
While Levys works are laden with content, they all begin as visual images,
opportunities to explore formal sculptural concerns. The headless image of
Peter carrying Archer on his shoulders began when she saw them from the
back, Peters head disappeared, obscured completely by Archers body. Working
from this starting point, Levy realized that she needed to solve the problem
of how to create Peters body without a head. What to do with the shoulders?
Should he have a neck? Such formal issues consume her, but she is also aware
that any time an artist works figuratively, the content drives the boat, which
is frustrating and galling in equal parts. For the headless image of herself
holding Ansel, Levy factored in emotional issues: Parenthood forces parents
out of the center of their lives. Parents become a backdrop, or a pedestal,
supporting the lives they engendered. In her self-portrait, she transformed
herself into a plinth, something that came into exis-
tence to hold Ansel and winks out of existence when
he no longer needs to be held.
Levys work is not only realisticit is unflinching
and relentless, bringing the hard facts of parenthood
home, as implacable as the fact that death comes to all
forms of life. What lifts these images from total despair
is the beauty of their modeling and the luxurious sen-
suality of their forms. Joy and wonder can also be
found in these works. They were made by hand, and
the skill and knowledge it took to create them offer
a cause for celebration all on their own.
Jan Riley is a writer and curator living in New York
and a frequent contributor to Sculpture.
Sculpture April 2012 27
Left: Boy with Body, 2011. Archival digital C-print, 24 x 18 in. Right: Eater, 200708. Archival digital C-print, 12 x 9 in.
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Pursuing Figuration
in the 21st Century
BY JONATHAN GOODMAN
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Installation of work in the group show En,
EnEn?, 2010. Exhibition at Fat Art, Beijing.
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Despite the presence of an avant-garde since
the 1980s, figurative art remains important
in China. This is not to say that Chinese
culture rejects abstraction; instead, its
preference for realist art is based on cen-
turies of traditional painting focused on the
landscape, which many scholars regard as
its highest achievement. Artists such as Xu
Bing, Gu Wenda, and Cai Guo-Qiang who
have made their way to the West clearly
dont fit into the figurative paradigm; they
are essentially installation and land artists
with a marked conceptual bent, whose
fame and success seem linked to a partic-
ular generation, one that came of age in
1980s Beijing. Many of todays younger
artists, on the other hand, have returned
to the figure, and the Beijing sculptor Li
Wei is indicative of her generation.
Contemporary Chinese interest in figura-
tive art depends on more than tradition.
For some, it is a way of representing the
suffering of the peasantas, for example,
in the famous sculptural group portraying
the rent collection courtyard where a
landowner demands money from the poor
(completed in 1965 in Sichuan province,
the work was reprised by artisans under
the guidance of Cai for the 1999 Venice
Biennale). The sensibility stems from the
political drive behind Socialist Realism, in
which the worker is glorified as heroic in
his ability to deliver the materials and goods
necessary to Chinas well-being. So politi-
cized an orientation, based on formal aca-
demic skills, is now harder to find, although
the interest in the human body remains.
Indeed, the training of young students in
drawing, painting, and sculpture still stems
from the Western studio practice of render-
ing the model, with the exception of classes
teaching traditional Chinese painting.
Li Wei, whose technical command of
figurative sculpture is always sound and
often inspired, has some sharp words about
whether art can be intrinsically Chinese.
Speaking of the idea that art with Chinese
elements must necessarily be Chinese art,
she says, This idea is stupid, but, even so,
many people believe it nowadays. She
goes on to say: The impact of Western art
started a long time ago, and many good
Chinese academic artists have been influ-
enced by Western culture, which is normal.
I think that spirit itself can represent peo-
ple perfectly. Her return to spiritual terms
she says that the process of discovery
toward truth is the process of spiritual
growthenables her to universalize the
aesthetic impulse. As a result, she can see
her figurative training at Beijings Central
Academy of Fine Arts as an exercise geared
toward an objective representation of the
human formregardless of culture. Her
sculpture, which ranges from dogs in cages
to subtle busts of women reconfigured in
various installation groupings, from naked
hospital patients to everyday heroes, is
predicated on the idea that people all over
the world share an interest in realism: we
inevitably see ourselves when viewing the
human figure. Part of Li Weis attraction as
an artist lies in her willingness to address
the figure in no uncertain termsand on
a level that does not limit itself to China,
though the portraits are of Chinese people.
Li Weis commitment to representational
art follows her understanding that the path
of humanity accommodates a basic hope
for the futureeven if it is accompanied
by an anger at injustice or political repres-
sion. Her understanding of society and cul-
ture is made more complexbut also more
relevantby her concern for gender issues
and themes of freedom. She brings a sharp
eye to the conventions that propel Chinese
mores and sees the vulnerabilities of her
culture in a critical lighthence her series
of caged dogs, which addresses the treat-
ment of animals but may be extended alle-
gorically to express deeper concerns about
Chinas one-party government. One must
be careful not to overinterpret and naively
politicize imagery that, at least on the sur-
face, looks perfectly innocent, yet, in an
e-mail, Li Wei had the following to say of
her generation: We were born during the
end of the 1970s and the beginning of the
80s, the so- called good times. But pri-
vately, in my thoughts, the best of times
has been the worst of times. Now China
seems to be openwe can play, enjoy, and
so on. However, in the meantime, isnt
it horrible? When people enjoy common
30 Sculpture 31.3
Trap, 200809. Painted fiberglass, 90 x 32 x 80 cm.
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entertainment, who is able to see the truth
under layers of fog?
The truth to which she refers implicitly
critiques the empty materialism that has
accompanied the easy affluence of her age
group. Because she was surrounded by
luxury and dissipation, she fell into a
deep despair. Her generation is not only
trapped by government repression, it is also
weakened by dissolute living. The allegory
here is elusive, perhaps in part because Li
Wei cannot speak out the way she would
like. Her criticism, however, is not only of
popular culture, but also of herself: I want
to be a sincere artisteven if my honest
expression would be misunderstood. But
[my dog sculptures] told a vague story. I
didnt define my position; I just put scenes
together. I described rather than defined
because I have no right to define. I am sur-
rounded by a noisy and disorderly world,
and I know very little about it.
Perhaps the language is a bit unclear
Li Wei wrote to me in Englishbut her frus-
tration and desire to expose herself to, but
also remain free of, certain kinds of expe-
rience indicate that she, like many artists
and intellectuals, is repelled by material-
ism and conventional culture. Clearly, she
refuses to explicitly criticize her government,
whose harsh measures against dissenters
are well known. But the suppressed truth
of the dog sculptures may have greater
accuracy than a simple description of their
presentationdespite Li Weis assertion
that she is only describing. It would be
naive and even destructive to see her as
shirking her duty by refusing to openly criti-
cize the statea stance that democracy
can sustain but not a monolithic govern-
ment. Indeed, even writing as much would
constitute a risky act in China. Li Wei is not
just addressing the state; she loves animals
and clearly points out mistreatment in her
sculptures. Still, Trap (as this project is titled)
incorporates graffiti-strewn walls, and walls
are the traditional site of dissident writings.
The social message is subtle but present.
Maybe the best way to approach this
project is to see Li Weis art as allegory,
albeit an allegory whose narrative is ambig-
uous or mute. The possible readings are
many, but they have to fit the work with-
out extrapolating from it in facile fashion.
The caged dogs express not only Li Weis
love of animals, but also her distress at
Sculpture April 2012 31
Installation of work in the group show The
Other, the Same, 2010.
Auditory Hallucination I, 2008. Painted fiberglass,
82 x 56 x 93 cm.
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contemporary Chinese culture, as well as an
implicit critique of Chinas politics. Though
she says that she detests politics, it remains
part of her storyeven if she is forced to
speak in veiled terms. But this is only part
of her work. One has the sense that Li Wei
is attempting to speak to a higher reality, in
her portraits especially, which are exquisite
renderings of both spirit and personality in
painted fiberglass. The kind of intelligence
applied to her busts of women produces
a subtle interaction between viewer and
sculpture. Of particular interest are the
titles, which invest the portraits with a
meaning that the sculptures do not imme-
diately communicate. In works such as
Gossip, After Lying, and Persecution Mania,
the realist style so central to Li Weis pro-
duction takes on a psychological specificity
that the busts only hint at as art. Perhaps
Li Wei is interested in creating a disconnect
between the realism of her sculptural style
and the psychological suggestion of her
titles. She has written that the titles come
after the portraits are finished, each one
reflecting her own psychic state more than
that of the model.
Li Weis achievement is not always easy
to follow, in large part because Western art
seeks new expression and new form as
proofs of creativity, while Chinese artists
are not so quick to give up tradition. Real-
ism remains strong in China because artists
there have not given up on a shared human-
ity, which persists despite the troubling
rule of an inflexible government. At least
for me, it somehow makes sense that the
worlds most populous nation would find
solace in the persistence of realismpeople
remain the center of artistic attention.
Perhaps Li Weis reluctance to attempt
abstract sculpture stems from her belief
that the human condition is best repre-
sented by its own imagerya human
face for a human art practice. While her
humanism is not classical in either a Chi-
nese or Western sense, it incorporates
classicism as a way of fending off the dis-
temper of repugnant social processes. Her
portraits, while clearly of Chinese people,
extend far beyond a particular ethnicity.
Working from her imagination as well as
photographs, Li Wei merges her sensibility
with the real.
The portraits are haunting, larger-than-
life treatments of women whose integrity
is powerfully emotional. Persecution Mania
(2007) shows a pensive woman glancing
downward; it is clear that she is day-
dreaming a bitfor what reason, we dont
know. Her pale face is intensely realistic,
as is her hair. Given the close attention to
detail, we recognize a process whereby the
particulars of individual features maintain
a dignity of their own devising. In other
words, the humanity presented by Li Wei
exists in reality, rather than as an imagi-
native construction. It is important to
note that the models themselves possess
the dignity that we see in their sculptural
likenesses, whose realism reveals vulnera-
bility and, often, melancholy. Persecution
Mania may indicate the psychic reality of
the woman we see, but this information
does not heavily influence our response to
her. The model in After Lying (2007) also
32 Sculpture 31.3
Installation of work in the group show Its Not
Sculpture, 2010. Exhibition at the Linda Gallery,
Beijing.
Installation view of The Hollow Men, 2009.
Exhibition at the Hanmo Art Gallery, Beijing.
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shows a face of unusual emotional com-
plexity; the young woman seems to be
suppressing a grin, and she stares resolutely
back at the viewer, perhaps after lying.
The complexity arising from these enig-
matic expressions is at odds with the cate-
gorizing effect of the titles. But this intri-
cacy is not a weakness; instead, it points
out the fact that Li Wei pictures real people
with real sets of problems. The lyricism of
these finely modeled and painted sculp-
tures results in a broad appeal, while the
specificity of psychological condition shows
us that they are distinct individuals, which
supports a universal, as opposed to a lim-
ited, interpretation. Auditory Hallucina-
tion I (2008) presents someone who
looks troubled; the womans mournful gaze
rises above the viewer, who feels com-
pelled to empathize. Li Wei is particularly
good at rendering the eyes, which com-
municate so much in her posed portraits.
In this case, we also see the figures upper
body, which ends at the middle of the
upper arms. At first glance, we assume
that the person is indeed suffering from a
mental disorderwhy else would Li Wei
title the sculpture in this wayand our
sympathy is extended to someone whose
condition requires kindness. In general,
the faces we meet in Li Weis sculpture
exercise our good will; there is so much
vulnerability in her portraits. Part of their
openness comes from their own energies,
and part of the fragility comes from Li Wei
herself.
A poetic reading of art often suggests
an awareness of death: the moment of
attention in regard to beauty is intensified
by our recognition, whether conscious or
not, that our lives are limited in time. We
know that Li Wei understands the subtle
but compelling relation between death and
beauty because she incorporates a cer-
tain melancholy into her work, expressed
as a caged dog or a woman in distress. It
is wrong to overemphasize the emotional
susceptibility of her subjectsthat would
be sentiment, feeling for its own sake
but nonetheless we see in her finely pre-
sented figuration a genuine understand-
ing of human fragility. Betrayed Dignity
(2009) depicts a reserved, doll-like figure,
who returns the viewers gaze and pre-
sents her bare breasts in a matter-of-fact
fashion.
Nudity in these works doesnt feel like
sexualization; instead, it contributes to
the poignancy of the image. We do not
know how this person has been betrayed,
but the idea of betrayal adds to our curios-
ity. We are inevitably hooked because Li
Wei is so adept at constructing the pres-
ence of her models. Her technical skill is
just about perfect, modulating the fine
emotions of her figures without becoming
such a tour de force that viewers attend
to the technical details alone.
Time will tell how Li Wei plans to pro-
ceed. While her sculptural practice has
been limited to womenin part because,
as she told me, women offer a finer sense
of expression than menshe is now turn-
ing her attention to men. She also con-
tinues to portray animals.
There seems to be little danger that she
will become academic in her pursuits; her
sensibility is far too developed to engage
in mere description. Yet this may be diffi-
cult to see, in large part because the expe-
rience of the sculptures is so refined: the
subtleties of Li Weis art demand commit-
ted viewers. Gossip (2009), for instance,
offers us a young woman whose equanim-
ity suggests enjoyment at being the sub-
ject of other peoples words. Her mute gaze
tells us everythingand nothing at all.
This combination of reticence and expres-
siveness lies at the center of Li Weis
remarkable projects, which reify the world
in order to comment on its diversity. Her
signature ability, the presentation of
quiet feeling, looks as contemporary as
anything we now see.
Jonathan Goodman is a writer living in
New York and a frequent contributor to
Sculpture.
Sculpture April 2012 33
Gossip, 2009. Painted fiberglass, 56 x 46 x 83 cm.
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Commanding the east window of Robert
Cherrys hillside studio, which he shares
with his wife, painter Seraphine Pick, is the
air traffic control tower of the Wellington
Airport. Beyond, on the far horizon, one
may glimpse a stony suburban seashore
where the artist and his young son Joseph
once beach- combed flotsamforlorn,
sometimes unidentifiable, mostly plastic,
odds and endswhich later encrusted
a small army of slouching clay stelae. The
ungainly tabletop totems that populated
Cherrys 2006 exhibition Ive Let You Down
and Ive Let Myself Down were the first
of his works that Id seen and the begin-
ning of my keen interest in his eccentric
and engaging sculptural practice.
Brilliant
Rubbish
BY ROGER BOYCE
ROBERT
CHERRY
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A Conversation with
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Roger Boyce: I heard that you recently went on a road
trip across the United States, returning to New Zealand
with a suitcase full of fake deli window-display food,
ersatz salamis and other bogus meats. Youve pressed
those finds into service as component parts for new
pieces, which recently appeared in your Wellington
show Sow seeds of kindness to reap a crop of friends.
Whats up with the fake food and the dopey aphoristic
show titles?
Robert Cherry: Well, thats a charming bit of art-world
chatter, but the real story is that we went to the U.S.
in 2008 and to Europe last year, including Berlin.
Neither Seraphine nor I had been to Berlin. Theres a
lot of art to look at. It starts to affect you in ways, just
like watching too many episodes of The Sopranos in
one sitting. For respite we rode bikes all over East
Berlin late at night. Wed roll past butcher shops with
arrays of salamis hanging in illuminated windows
very common of course, but by then everything had
started to look like art. That got me to thinking about
making meat mobiles. When I got home, I ordered some
fake meat on-linesalamis and strings of sausages.
They came mail order from the States, and hell, they
even threw in a free chop.
I like them. They look heavy but, since theyre made
of lightweight plastic, they turn and float in the slightest
breeze. You can spot a segmented string of sausages
through the hole of a round salami as the mobile spins.
Nice muted colors, too.
RB: Now, about the titles?
RC: I found Sow seeds of kindness on one of those cheesy affirmation wall
plaques. I like the sentiment. Try a little kindness, overlook the blindness. I
mean, I dont think Ill be on my deathbed regretting that I didnt spend
more time in the studio. More likely Ill think that I should have spent more
time with friends and loved ones. Really, its nothing more than a nonsense
title for a show of nonsense worksa little less defeatist than my previous
exhibition titles, such as Ive Let You Down and Ive Let Myself Down or
Whens it all going to Stop? The titles are more about the process of making
art than the artworks themselves.
RB: Youve just trotted out the term mobile to describe some of the works
in your last show. You do realize that as soon as you do that youve let a
very big dog into the room, namely Alexander Calder. Calder invented the
mobile and created what, for the most part, were lyrical, abstract, three-
dimensional statements. Your mobiles feature identifiable (arguably figura-
tive) components.
RC: You cant make a mobile without it referring to Calder, cant present a
readymade without Duchamp, cant use a big black brush without nodding
to Franz Kline or Rolf Harris. All those guys have taken a big slice of the pie.
Im moving crumbs around at the bottom of the pan. It was simply seeing
the hanging salamis that made me think of mobiles. My mobiles do feature
identifiable objects, namely salamis, but I was hoping they could also be seen
as something lyrically abstract if you didnt look too harda ready-made
object forced out of formal context by its otherwise unlikely lyric potential.
RB: For reasons not altogether clear to me, Marcel Broodthaers and Dieter
Roth come to mind when I think of your work. Why is that?
RC: I work differently than artists who have been to art school. I wish I had
gone, but thats another story. As a result, I dont think that my practice
is as consciously weighted with what has come before. I am not as acutely
Sculpture April 2012 35
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Opposite: Evil vs Good, 2011. Mixed media, 100 x 55 x 8 cm.
Above: Weary Sinners, 2009. Modeling clay, glass, and found
objects, 30 x 25 x 25 cm. Right: False Confession, 2009. Found
objects and spray paint, 20 x 8 x 6 cm.
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aware of references to other artistsas
readily conscious of visual sampling from
or dialogue with my predecessors. I look
at the world more than I do the art world.
I read fictionrarely do I read about art. I
look at the pictures, though.
Roth, of course, has used sausages in his
work, hes German after all. They both use
food. I think that both Broodthaers and
Roth use humor in their work although
theyre altogether heavier than I am. Their
humor is darker by a ridiculously long chalk.
Roth goes from one thing to another
one avant-garde idea to the nextonly to state, at the end of the process, that it is mean-
ingless, garbage, and shit. I do Roth one better; I start out thinking, at the beginning
of my process, that my ideas are rubbish. My thinking process goes something like this:
rubbish, quite clever, brilliant, nothing special, rubbish.
RB: My summoning of Roth has more to do with his material and intellectual restless-
ness than his occasional employment of sausages. Youve demonstrated little allegiance to
any particular type of material or conceptual position. Your latest exhibition alone has a
dauntingly democratic array of found materials. An abbreviated list includes a corn-straw
broom, Chianti bottle, fly swatter, gorse thorns, pickled onions, and bongo drum.
RC: It was a bit of a mix. Those objects are mainly from two rack works. For example,
I started Surgeons Drunken Hand with a kitchen rack and plastic spoon and went on to
fill the remaining hooks (leaving one empty) with categorically unrelated objects such
as the Chianti bottle, plastic chain, and fly swatter. I tried a few different combinations
until I got just the right balance of color and form. Color and form, how quaintly old
fashioned, eh? The second piece, Paralysed, was constructed around a tool-hanging
rack. That time, I started with a broom, then found some old used wooden tool handles
(screwdriver, chisel, and axe) and attached them to incongruous and unrelated objects
such as carwash sponges and salamis.
For the bongo drum, I positioned what turned out to be a sonic insect repellant on
the stretched-skin top. The plastic insecticide thingy had two recessed circles, like eyes.
36 Sculpture 31.3
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Left: Paralysed, 2011. Mixed media, 130 x 60 x 8 cm. Above: Surgeons Drunken Hand, 2010. Mixed
media, installation view.
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The combination of the two objects conjured up an owl. I called it, surpris-
ingly enough, Owl.
RB: I find it as economical as Picassos bicycle-part Head of a Bull, but funnier.
RC: And yes, I have made heaps of stylistic and media change-ups over the
yearsmostly due to happenstance. For example, a series of watercolors came
about because I was given a watercolor set for my 40th birthday. Since I had
no idea how to go about making a conventionally good watercolor, I got some
interesting, but unorthodox, results. I havent done any in a while but keep
promising my dealer that Ill produce more.
RB: What about your famous, or was it infamous, Muscle Car Minimalism period?
RC: Oh yeah, the muscle car thingthat was a while ago (1999, to be exact),
but I still get asked about it a lot. I was interested in the similarity between
Modernist hard- edged abstraction and muscle car stripes. Both sub-genres
operate from conceits of power and transcendence but arrive from totally
different ends of the cultural spectrum. The first exhibition of this work was
called Westie Modernism Eastern Thought, a title lifted from a John McLaughlin
show called Western Modernism Eastern Thought.
RB: Westie being a Kiwi euphemism for
RC: West Aucklandbogan, redneck. Anyway, the show was mounted for a
single day at the Victory Snooker Saloon in Wellington. The exhibitionwith
the work standing on snooker tablescaused an unexpected stir and got a
lot of publicity. The New Zealand Listener named it Wellington exhibition of the
year. I was interviewed on TV and sold out the show. One collector wanted to
buy the entire exhibition. I still get offers. But, in the end, I produced only one
other show of them. I thought the concept a bit of
a one-liner and lost interest. I know some artists are
accused of sabotaging themselves by changing-up the
minute people show an interest in their work. Id like to
think that I am not one of them. In fact, I see how you
could run with a brand as an artist and, more than likely,
do rather well. But thats not me either.
Roger Boyce is an artist and writer living in Christchurch.
Sculpture April 2012 37
Above and detail: Long Story, Not Worth It, 2011. Mixed media, scale model figure 1.8
cm. Right: Owl, 2011. Found objects, 44 x 22 x 22 cm.
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Simple Simply Isnt
Peter Shelton
A Conversation with
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uheader, 19952009. Mixed media, 78 x 28.5 x 28 in. R
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Whether realistic fabrications from a consummate
draftsman (thingsgetwet) or abstract blobs (clouds-
andclunkers), Sheltons works perform hard-to-artic-
ulate spatial, perceptual, and emotive actions upon
us. Though this is hardly new, Sheltons knack is to
yoke proprioception directly to eccentric content
meaning and allusion are experiential not rhetorical.
In his work, we dont contemplate the precarious bal-
ance between appendage and gravitywe feel the
weird profundity of this simple fact and its existential
implications for all earthbound life and endeavor.
Jean Arp-ish pods that can look simian, pipes that
resemble a small colon, or realistic bronze boots that
make us acutely aware of a corpus in absentiaShelton
never illustrates the body, never overtly references its
endeavors, fears, or psychological dimensions. Instead,
his works enliven an awareness of certain actions and
properties: fast, slow, approach, retreat, growth, con-
traction, mass, void, inside, outside, visible, occluded.
He considers these physical states to be the essence
of quotidian experience, full of emotive, existential
punch; he also claims no interest in literally addressing
them. What he seems to be after is the creation
of visual conditions/objects in which perception and
allusion happen at once.
After undergraduate studies in medieval literature,
anthropology, theater, and pre-med biology, Shelton
retreated to the woods to be still, to do simple things
with his hands (he mastered industrial welding) and
forget all that hed learned. He eventually got an MFA
from UCLA, taught at major universities, absorbed
Mondrian and Nauman, Turrell, and Merleau-Ponty,
and came up with a life and art practice full of feisty
mistrust for all unexamined standards. Sheltons
creations hover between animal and mineral,
full abstraction and vague representation, invoking
machines and juicy viscera, logic and madness while
firing synapses in both the left and right sides of the
brain.
40 Sculpture 31.3
redouroboros, 200405. Mixed media, 70 x 50 x 42 in.
BY MARLENA DOKTORCZYK-DONOHUE
Everything about Peter Shelton (pristine studio, stunning preparatory drawings, conversation sprinkled with
Latin terms) suggests a combination of obsessive technician and daring poet willing to risk it all for an idea.
(A case in point, his controversial 2009 commission for the Los Angeles Police Department [LAPD] headquar-
ters.) In his studio, massive shapes in various stages of completion envelop and dwarf the visitor; even unfin-
ished, their physical impact is immediate and kinesthetic. Dramatic, dynamic activation of the viewers body
and ambient space marks a clear focus that began with Sheltons earliest ruminations about the boundaries
of architecture. He is less willing to pin down meaning.
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Marlena Doktorczyk-Donohue: What were some of your early
influences?
Peter Shelton: The general mosh pit of the 1960s and 70sDick
Barnes, psychedelia, mysticism, Buddhism, anti-war stuff.
MDD: How have you managed to make such varied work from
fairly basic shapes?
PS: I dont think the lexicon or the results are simple or basic. I
get a huge diversity within shapes, across works, and in the feelings
generated. The whole concept of what I do gets dislodged when
you consider the work in total. For 10 years, I was doing largely
interactive environmental work. I thought of shapes as proto-
architectures, as large organisms with an almost alimentary pro-
cessional. My kind of figuration snuck in through this architec-
tural approach and my pre-med studies.
MDD: I meant apparently simple, not conceptually simple.
PS: A lot of my early work started off nominally geometric, but
even then, I would sneak in references to the body without showing
a body, which was a kind of subversive connection. Desire, mem-
ory, humor, and menace are powerful psychic qualities that I dont
avoid, but I wanted any narrative to be understood as much in
the body as in the mind.
MDD: Would you concede that you create zany correlates of the
body that maneuver between the abstract and the figurative?
PS: This whole figurative versus abstract stuff comes from faulty
thinking after World War II, suggesting that Modernism was fun-
damentally a battle between representation and abstraction. I
dont see it as one leading to the other or exceeding the other. It
comes down to achieving some core expression, and the hows
of getting there follow from that.
MDD: Do you mean that idea trumps process?
PS: Nothing is that simple. I mean that its inaccurate to see my
work as growing linearly from abstract to real or simple to com-
plex, or the reverse. Unlike many of my formalist predecessors, I
dont work linearly, evolving from project and situation to the next
project and situationideas continue to circulate. Sixtyslippers
came 15 years after its ideas first showed up in majorjointshang-
ersandsquat; and majorjointshangersandsquat is a several powers-
of-ten telescoped view outward from the incredibly focused and
realistic detail of thingsgetwet.
MDD: By powers of ten do you mean that you start from the
minutia of an idea or a close-in scale and then years later look at
the same idea or object in expanded conceptual and physical
dimensions?
PS: It never goes in any predictable arc. I think that comes from
my pre-med studies, from a general curiosity, and from the fact
that I hate rules.
MDD: What rules were or are you reacting to?
PS: I did grad work during the transition from Abstract Expressionism
to the high formalism of Greenberg, followed by Minimalism. Any
conventional figurative work was banned; drawing was anathema.
Making overly large things that went into space was suspect because
of forbidden, so-called theatricality. You could include nothing in real
art that drew from other disciplines, like architecture or the stage.
Sculpture April 2012 41
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Left: redbuttons, 19872010. Mixed media, 26 x 44 x 26 in. Below: godshole,
2003. Mixed media, 60 x 30 x 60 in.
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MDD: And this registers in your work how?
PS: I have gone out of my way to engage the body and use archi-
tectural space. Drawing has been very important in leading me
to the skin-and-bones schematic understructure of my work.
MDD: Did you have an epiphany that allowed you to cast off all
the grad school dogma?
PS: I realized that I wanted to make stuff that embodied physicality
instead of just depicting it, or illustrating it, or merely pointing
to it. What possible reason could there be for referencing phys-
icality? That is an oxymoron, as I see it.
MDD: Can you elaborate?
PS: I can go to school and learn to make a perfect foreshortened
armin fact, I can. But that is not the act or experience of fore-
shortening, which is the feeling one has of contraction as the
opposite of stretching. I want to create conditions in my work
that produce those experiences in three dimensions as senses in
your body.
MDD: Then the 70s caught up with you in the activation of per-
ception and space stressed in Minimalism.
PS: Yes, that almost scientific vibe you get in an Andre, a Judd, or a
Stella. But there, its almost like form could be put on autopilot
and the work would make itself. The final import of that work is
the elegance of some formal algorithm. Of course, Judd was inter-
ested in the nature of form and color, but that stuff was inten-
tionally self-referential and what I call germ free.
MDD: Do you feel that a slightly messier, less germ-free approach
is linked to Los Angeles?
PS: Here in L.A., there were hybrid and spatially extensive works
that completely mixed up forms and experience. So, messier?
Yes, please. The formal virtues of, say, Kienholz and Nauman are
quite underrated, but their choices are no less precise than those
of Judd.
MDD: You keep mentioning balance between technique and
mood, maybe because you come from both literary and scientific
entry points.
PS: For me, the impact of Nauman or Kienholz is less based on
formal continuity and consistency than on a very discernable narra-
tive tone in their work. I wanted to make work that used an aware-
ness of the body and careful process to push you out into general
questions through formsort of like inviting you to contemplate
your navel, turning you inside out and dropping you out of the
other end.
MDD: Should we get the elephant out of the room and talk about
the LAPD headquarters commission from 2009?
PS: Justice, power, and protection are words that have a
reality attached to them, and that reality is part of policing. They
are also constructs or symbols. In both of these contexts, they
mean different things to different peopleask a wealthy white guy
in Malibu what justice or protection is, and he has one idea; ask a
kid from South Central, and you get another. I wanted to create
a physical experience not so literally related to those concepts.
MDD: But why monkeys and quasi-porcine shapes?
PS: I got to thinking about animals and what they stand for, how
their shapes and symbols mean this or that in various cultures
through time. Childhood memories of animals get mixed in, and
a concepts born that keeps evolving as you invent and solve for-
mal issues. I expect and hope everyone will have a different take.
Do I expect a frontal attack from educated people? No. But I have
been at this long enough to know that can be part of it.
MDD: As tough as the LAPD project might have been, your faade
for the Indianapolis Public Library is just plain stunning.
PS: thinmanlittlebird is a two-part work installed on a 1917 Greek
Revival building designed by Philadelphia-based French architect
Paul Cret. Its a pretty building, and it had two exterior pedestals
that were left un-appointed by Cret.
MDD: Youve played with the pedestal idea in other works.
42 Sculpture 31.3
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PS: I had spent a lot of my career avoiding the pedestal because
its a whole extra formal element in which I had no interest, and
pedestals remove a work from immediate space, putting it back
up behind a proscenium or stage.
MDD: But as is your way, rather than avoid an issue, you take it on.
PS: Thats true. The LAPD commission started with existing pedes-
tals. In a Lannan Foundation installation years before, I launched
a very tall figure off one pedestal and floated a contrasting hori-
zontal figure over a second one. At the Cret building, I wanted to
respect the whole Beaux-Arts tradition but also move the sculp-
ture forward to a current moment in art. On one pedestal, thin-
man plays with the Greek ideal of human form, more a gangly vine
gesture in bronze than a Hellenic god. littlebird cantilevers over
the twin pedestal, a small cast sparrow sitting on an 11-foot diam-
eter torus. The Neoclassical style uses polyhedrons, cubes, cones,
and spheres. I saw the torus as an updated Platonic form. The
doughnut shape is everywherecells, galaxiesso I imagined
this hovering universe of knowledge.
MDD: Can a public art audience handle the degree of ambiguity
expected by gallery-goers?
PS: Each venue has its imperatives. Art is not always courteous,
but public projects are always courteous; sometimes they com-
memorate. You have a mandate, an art committee or commis-
sion that dispenses money. Theres usually some narrative youre
asked to address. Some people call public commissions functional
art because they fulfill certain explicit social functions, like
regional semiotics or history telling. Ideally, for me, making or
conceiving art is not driven by a function or a meaning.
MDD: But you actively throw your glove in to do public projects.
Sculpture April 2012 43
Above: godspipes, 199798. Mixed media, 189 elements, dimensions vari-
able. Right: romandrain, 1993. Bronze, water, copper, and pump, 58.5 x 23
x 34.5 in.
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PS: I do it because the upside is that in public space
many people can have an experiential reaction. For
what I want to investigate, that is really attractive.
MDD: Could you say something about the atypically
illustrative thingsgetwet series, which was shown
in your recent career overview at L.A. Louver?
PS: Its a series of realistic, oddly mysterious every-
day objects cast in bronze with copper and designed
to have little channels delivering water. But its not
atypicalI have always worked with verisimilitude
when an idea asked for it. The project came from a
cancelled commission at Dartmouth Colleges Hood
Museum that was to be a fountain mixing everyday
objects, medical models, domestic and religious arti-
facts, architectural references, and engineered water
pumps. I had this idea that all of the objects, as well
as the whole high-versus-low culture thing, would be
enlivened, abstracted, soothed, eroded, and equivo-
cated by being bathed in water.
MDD: What happened to the project?
PS: The commission fell through, but I resolved to make
44 Sculpture 31.3
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Above and detail: thinmanlittlebird, 2009. Cast bronze, 2 ele-
ments: 44 x 4 x 4 ft. and 5.25 x 11 x 11 ft. Work installed at the
Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, IN. Left: churchsnake-
bedbone, 1993. Bronze, copper, pumps, and water, 87 x 77 x 38 in.
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a series of individual water works. While
most of the elements were made from
scratch, I wanted to have the impression
that they were found. The very realistically
crafted objects in thingsgetwet may seem
anomalous, but they have a kind of rela-
tional syntax and become small organisms
in themselves.
The powerhouse is a model of an 18th-
century steam plant that initially supplied
steam, then electricity, to the Miami County
courthouse in Troy, Ohio, where I was born.
It was originally going to sit atop a casting
of a small wooden sleigh fashioned for my
grandmother by my great- grandfather. I
wanted a beautiful remnant of my Scots-
Irish and Mennonite blacksmith past, so I
paired the powerhouse with something fem-
inine from my family. That sort of collision
of sensibilities recurs for me, where one pole
is made vivid by its oppositeyou find this
as well in trunknutsWHITEHEADfloater.
MDD: So, is this autobiographical?
PS: It is not autobiographical per se, but I
wanted things close to my experience.
MDD: I still see the body referenced here.
PS: The model of Chartres Cathedral in churchsnakebedbone is the ultimate body ana-
logue, with its Gothic skeleton and stained glass skin. Similarly, the frame of the bed is
the skeleton to the mattress and the snake on top is the most primal alimentary canal.
MDD: What are you engaged in now?
PS: At the moment, I am preoccupied with some works related to smoke and what I have
been calling inyandoutys, which are iterations of simple convex and concave surfaces.
Marlena Doktorczyk-Donohue is a writer based in Los Angeles.
Sculpture April 2012 45
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Above: breadwaterwall, 1993. Bronze, copper, water, wood, and pump, 51 x 62.5 x 18 in. Below: oldwetbrick-
house, 1993. Bronze, copper, pumps, and water, 36 x 42 x 42 in.
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Making Art Visible
Athena Tacha
A Conversation with
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Athena Tacha was born in Greece and
received MA degrees in sculpture (Athens)
and art history (Oberlin College) and a
PhD in aesthetics (Sorbonne). Since 1970,
she has done large-scale outdoor sculp-
ture and conceptual/photographic art
and has executed more than 40 large
commissions for public sites throughout
the United States.
Tachas work is represented in many
museums, and she has exhibited widely.
Atlantas High Museum hosted a large
retrospective in 1989, and a 40-year retro-
spective recently finished a tour of Greece.
This interview took place when Athena
Tacha: From the Public to the Private
(organized by the State Museum of Con-
temporary Art, Thessaloniki, and co-spon-
sored by the J.F. Costopoulos Foundation
and the Municipal Art Gallery-G.I. Katsi-
gras Museum of Larissa) was on view at
the Athens School of Fine Arts, its third
venue. Tacha also contributed a site-spe-
cific installation to the recent inaugural
show of the Onassis Cultural Center in
Athens, Polyglossia (30 Expatriate Greek
Artists from America and Europe).
Sculpture April 2012 47
Athena Tacha, in collaboration with
EDAW and AGA, Muhammad Ali
Plaza, 200209, Louisville, KY, featur-
ing Dancing Steps amphitheater and
Star Fountain.
for Everyone
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48 Sculpture 31.3
to connect vertical and horizontal features
of each building in a variety of ways, trans-
forming their spaces.
HP: How does the Onassis piece differ from
the earlier ones?
AT: I had already made a tape installation
for my retrospective at the Contemporary
Art Museum in Thessaloniki, and trying to
find local material, I discovered a white
woven fiberglass tape that is sticky on one
side. When I used it at the Larissa Munici-
pal Gallery (the second venue), I primarily
exploited its self-adhesiveness. At the Onas-
sis show, I explored it further. I decided to
use the huge column as the anchor for my
work, wrapping 40 pieces of tape around
it and then stretching them across the
corner, as if the column were a fisherman
gathering his nets. So, the title for the
work, Pull, came to mind. From every point
of attachment at the top of the walls,
the tapes were then arranged in an irregu-
lar flow, like rivulets of water, expanding
downwards into a cataract. The flowing
tape areas were entirely improvised, like
free-hand drawing with brush and ink on
paper.
HP: How would you explain the meaning
of this work?
AT: The tape field on the walls could be
seen as foaming waves, quantum fluctu-
ations, or even sensuous organic forms
and, of course, viewers could find other
associations in it. But, for me, Pull (elxis, in
Greek) can be conceived as the attraction of
opposites on many different levels: massive
column versus ethereal material; rectilinear
ceiling strips versus spirals on the column
and curlicues on the walls; clarity versus
ambiguity or shifting complexity; fixed ver-
sus open- ended, multivalent forms; and
order versus chaosultimately, the work
communicated a tug of war between con-
trary systems or forces.
HP: Turning to outdoor sculpture, the area
of work for which you are best known, what
is your most recent public commission?
AT: This past decade has been my most
productive, perhaps because I quit teaching.
I executed seven large public commissions,
Heleni Polichronatou: You were invited to participate in the inaugural exhibition of the
new Onassis Cultural Center by its curator, Marilena Karra. How did your temporary
installation come about?
Athena Tacha: Marilena, who was looking for new work by expatriate Greek artists, found
my Web site and decided to invite me, without knowing that my retrospective was traveling
through Greece in 2010. I went to see the huge space, still unfinished in October 2010; and
back at home, I made a model of the area that was assigned to me, a corner facing one of
the six massive columns that support the rooms 16-foot-high ceiling. (It would take a Samp-
son to embrace such columns.) Marilena and the architects wanted me to do one of my
tape sculptures, a series that I began in Ohio museums in the late 70s (in 1982, I did
one in Pittsburgh, initiating the Mattress Factorys series of installations by visiting artists).
For those early works, I selected white plasterboard tape, a low-cost architectural material,
Left and below: Athenas Web, 2010. White fiber-
glass plasterboard tape, installation at the State
Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki.
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Sculpture April 2012 49
and at other times perpendicularly, in synch with the flow of traffic under the bridge. The
animation program is based on the heartbeat of a woman (about 70 pulses/minute) and
a man (60 pulses/minute)my heart and my husbands, but it could be based on the
heartbeats of any passing pedestrians.
HP: It seems that transportation facilities are natural sites for you, since time, movement,
and rhythm are central to your work.
AT: That could not be more true. Those themes really came together in another commis-
sion from the middle of this past decadeRiding With Sarah And Wayne, a mile-long
piece commissioned for the new Light Rail in Newark, New Jersey. There, I turned the
pavement between the rails into a musical staff with black granite slabs as notes, inspired
by the scores of melodies sung or written by Newark jazz stars Sarah Vaughan and Wayne
Shorter. The lyrics are sandblasted in granite along the platforms of the Center and Broad
all but one in collaboration with architects,
engineers, and landscape architects, and
three of them consist of several distinct
works. The largest, a five-acre commercial
development in Friendship Heights, Mary-
land (on the border with Washington, DC),
was started in 2002 and completed in 2009.
I designed the pavement of a large oval
plaza with planters and Light Obelisk Foun-
tain, which extends from the corner of two
main avenues to a new Bloomingdales
store. For the shopping arcade on one side
of the plaza, I created an animated RGB
ceiling called Light Riggings; and at the
other end, I designed a 35-foot-high, ani-
mated LED, open-steel tower, WWW-Tower
(named for the initials of the three avenues
around the development, Wisconsin, West-
ern, and Willard, and alluding to the Web).
The 25-foot-high black metal obelisk floating
over the fountain also consists of animat-
ed LEDs, ascending and descending along
its four sides: two sides (blue and green)
descend with changing water-like patterns,
and the other two (yellow and red) ascend,
constantly narrating a 12-minute text on
Water as Life. Actually, the idea of com-
munication underlies all the parts of this
commission.
HP: What about other recent commissions?
AT: Many of the sites were related to trans-
portation, and the dominant materials were
LEDs and water. At DCs new Morgan Boule-
vard Metro station, I designed a small plaza
with curving color paths and planters and
blinking sign posts. STOP & GO was named
in honor of Garrett Augustus Morgan, the
inventor of the first mechanical traffic
crossing sign. And in Bethesda, Maryland,
I designed a 300-foot-long ceiling for the
pedestrian bridge linking a four-story parking
garage to the Strathmore Music Center. The
LED color animation of Hearts Beat pro-
ceeds in two irregular rows, side by side,
with the colors moving sometimes in the
direction of the pedestrians on the overpass,
RiverCloud, 2010. White fiberglass plasterboard
tape, installation at the Municipal Art Gallery-
G.I. Katsigras Museum, Larissa, Greece.
Pull, 2011. White fiberglass plasterboard tape,
15 x 22 x 15 ft. Work installed at the Onassis
Cultural Center, Athens.
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Street stations, to be read by people waiting for the train. I had wanted the
music to be broadcast in the stations every time a train arrived, but that
exceeded the budgetwhich is always the problem with public art.
HP: Why did you devote so much of your career to work in public spaces?
AT: I believe in making art visible to everybodynot only the intellectual elite
(museum visitors) or the rich collectors who can afford to buy it. The social
upheavals of the late 1960s made me feel that I would be an irresponsible
human being if I did not put art in the public domain. I also opted to make
my sculpture as an environmentnot a standing objectso that it could be
experienced kinesthetically as well as visually (with the body moving through
its space) and could serve a function, like landscape architecture. This way, I
could also address issues about the environmentboth natural and urban.
HP: In your 1972 A Call to Artists for Social Action, you invited artists to resist
the corruption of their work by the gallery world. What was the response?
AT: A number of younger artists at the time felt as I did and, encouraged by a
new National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program, we turned to the solu-
tion of proposing art for public spaces (called site-specific art after the mid-
1970s), with the aim of improving the urban environment and raising peoples
consciousness about art. When I made my first public projects in 197576,
some with NEA grants, only one stateHawaiihad percent-for-art legislation,
along with a few cities, including Philadelphia, Miami, and Seattle. However,
the federal governments General Services Administration (GSA) had also started
a program to commission artworks for new federal buildings (I won one of the
first major commissions, for Norfolk, Virginia). Since then, almost every state,
city, and county in the country has created some type of public art legislation,
which has encouraged this major artistic movementthe first movement since
Dadaism to operate outside the gallery world.
HP: Your Franklin Town Park was one of the first public parks created as a work
of art. The conversion of large urban spaces into works of art has become a key
trend today, part of a broader intention to create a relationship between art
and everyday life. Would you like to comment on this issue?
AT: I was perhaps the first artist to conceive of a park as a Gesamtkustwerk,
using its land, plantings, and even utilitarian features as materials (instead
of clay, marble, or bronze). I did that in a proposal for the Charles River Step
Sculptures for Bostons waterfront (January 1974) and in a proposal for the
Sawyer Point Recreation Park in Cincinnati, Ohio (1977). I realized the same
concepts in my vest-pocket Tide Park (Smithtown, Long Island, 197677)
and in Connections at Franklin Town Park, an entire
block in central Philadelphia (198192). Such parks
are not to be confused with sculpture gardens, which
are really outdoor sculpture museums.
HP: Since the 70s, artists have made a concerted effort
to reintegrate nature into the built landscape. They
incorporate plants, rocks, and water into public sculp-
ture and participate in the rehabilitation of urban areas
destroyed by industrial development. What do you think
needs to happen between communities and artists to
make a successful public art program of this kind?
AT: Modern cities are a real visual and ecological disas-
ter, particularly in their industrial and suburban sprawl
(the entire area of Attica has become a suburb of
Athens, which has spread as cancerously as Los Angeles).
A number of idealists, like myself, have tried to propose
solutions for improvement, but even in the case of sup-
portive government administrations, art is never given
enough funding to make a dent in the ugliness. In
the West, few cities outside of EuropeChicago and
Vancouver come to mindhave a great architectural
tradition or contemporary identity with which to foster
good public art.
HP: The evolution of public art gave birth to new con-
cepts and new content, and younger artists took into
consideration local cultural, social, political, and eco-
nomic conditions. Richard Serras Tilted Arc clashed
with the aesthetic perception of its viewers. In your
opinion, should artists create in accordance with pub-
lic expectations? Should public art develop its own
criteria for suitability, quality, and taste that might
be different from those of the atelier?
50 Sculpture 31.3
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Bloomingdales Plaza, 200209, Friendship Heights, MD. Public
space with Light Obelisk Fountain, animated LEDs, black alu-
minum, black granite, and water, 30 x 30 ft.; and Light Riggings,
animated RGB ceiling.
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AT: Serra is a great sculptor, but he does not (or did not
then) have a public consciousness. The Tilted Arc affair
destroyed the future of permanent public art in the
U.S. After that, administrations became scared to com-
mit funding for permanent projects, and most of them
turned to temporary projects. I personally believe that
a good artist committed to public art must have a dif-
ferent attitude and develop a different artistic vocab-
ulary from the studio and gallery artist. I do not mean
that artistic visions and values should be diluted by
general opinion. The commissioning institution and
the artist must inform, educate, and consult the com-
munity to a great extent, but the general public should
never dictate the art (too much listening to the com-
munity can be destructive). The artist, who has spent
an entire lifetime studying how to make art and devel-
oping a personal vision, must ultimately create the
public artwork. Even communal art, like the medieval
cathedrals, had a leading mind, an architect or a sculp-
tor who conceived and directed the project.
HP: Some new cities have demonstrated strong growth
in all forms of art. For example, artists were involved
in the urban design of Villeneuve dAscq, France, show-
ing that public space can be conceived as a living space
through the power of art in relation to architecture,
residents needs, and aesthetic quality. What do you
see as the future for artists in urban planning?
AT: I have seen only a few views of Villeneuve dAscq,
but I definitely think that artists should be involved in
urban design projects, as well as in architectural and
landscape complexes. This can only improve the urban fabric and ultimately,
ideally, the quality of peoples lives. Even though I am a loner working in my
studios with assistants, I have often collaborated with architects. Since 2000,
I have worked exclusively with architectural or engineering firms as an artistic
consultant and designer of specific parts of their projects.
HP: What work of yours in a public place do you prefer and why?
AT: I have a lot of favorites, but Ill name two. Green Acres (198587) is a
multimedia, environmental sculpture for the courtyard of the Department of
Environmental Protection of the State of New Jersey in Trenton. It combines
sculptural step formations that serve as seats, a green pavement of slate
and granite slabs with sandblasted photographs of the endangered landscapes
and species of New Jersey, planters with live plants specified by me, and red
volcanic rock clustersbringing together my sculptural, social, environmen-
tal, photographic, and conceptual interests.
My more recent favorite is the Muhammad Ali Plaza (200209) in Louis-
ville, Kentucky, where the great boxer was born. In collaboration with the
landscape architecture firm EDAW, I designed a glass waterfall at the top,
the Dancing Steps amphitheater and pavement of the middle level, and in
the center, the Star Fountain with a seven-minute program of animated
LEDs lighting 48 glass columns that spiral inside a star-shaped basin. You
can see a video of the light dance of Star Fountain on YouTube.
HP: What are you working on now?
AT: I have been invited to do a large outdoor installation at Grounds For Sculp-
ture, which will stay up for a year, and I hope it can be executed by 2013.
On a smaller scale, I have started on an extensive cycle of digital photo-works
about the cyclical interaction between humans and nature, using my pho-
tographs of the fantastic stone landscape of Petra, which I visited again last
spring. Like all of my art, these works are about our environment, on Earth
and in the universe.
Heleni Polichronatous PhD thesis for the Athens School of Fine Arts was
Large Scale Artwork in Public Space: From the 60s to the 21st Century
(2007).
Sculpture April 2012 51
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Connections, 198192. Planted stone terracing, rock clusters, trees,
and paths, work located in Franklin Town Park, Philadelphia.
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Sculpture April 2012 53
ANTIPODEAN TREASURE
Connells Bay
Sculpture Park
Opposite: Aerial view of Connells Bay
Sculpture Park, with Cathryn Monro,
Rise, 2001. Bronze, concrete, and
water, 98 x 594 x 470 cm. This page:
Chris Booth, Slip, 2003. Basalt,
greywacke, and stainless steel, 50
x 750 x 750 cm.
BY ROBIN WOODWARD The city of Auckland, New Zealands largest population base, sports four first-class sculp-
ture parks within a 50-kilometer radius of its Central Business District. Of these, Connells
Bay Sculpture Park is unique in presenting a microcosm of the countrys large-scale sculp-
ture.
1
Nestled into a private bay at the eastern end of Waiheke Island (a short ferry ride
from downtown Auckland) within a landscape of native bush, Connells Bay Sculpture
Park showcases New Zealands premier sculptors of the last two decades.
The park was established in 1998 by John and Jo Gow. Initially, they purchased sculpture
to enhance the setting for three colonial-era cottages along the shoreline. However, the
concept of a sculpture park developed, and the Gows have purchased and commissioned
more than 26 large-scale permanent works and five temporary installations. In this evo-
lution, Connells Bay has followed a typical patternwhile the collection began with
purchased works, it continued to grow through commissioned pieces. This mature stage
has brought with it some of the parks most distinctive sculpture, since commissioned
works tend to have a specific reference to place, space, or site.
In the strictest sense, site-specific refers to a work that belongs integrally to its
site, a work that would be diminished or lose its meaning if placed elsewhere. But the
term also identifies works commissioned or designed for a particular site. Tilted Arc is,
without doubt, the most renowned example of a site-specific work. At Connells Bay,
Fatu Feuus Guardian of the Planting (1999) is unambiguously site-specific. Carved into
the giant stump of an ancient macrocarpa tree that had been forked by lightning,
Guardian of the Planting is rooted to the land in that specific spot; it simply cannot be
placed anywhere else.
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In addition to such site-specific sculpture,
Connells Bay also features site-responsive
works. These works do more than simply
reference site or place; they have a com-
plementary relationship to the land. For
instance, in Chris Booths Slip (200304),
five baskets of stones address soil erosion.
In tandem with restorative planting of the
hillside, Booth covered and nurtured the
terrain by cloaking it in one of his earth
blankets. Regan Gentrys Skeleton Trees
(2009) similarly addresses the needs of the
environment. These art-trees, which Gentry
created by manipulating No. 8 fencing wire
(the basic material of old farm fences in
New Zealand), use an ordinarily destructive
intervention to restore vegetation.
Nic Moons temporary installation, Out
of the Ashes (2007), responded to the same
issue. To protect native seedlings, Moon
provided each one with a shelter shaped as
either a traditional Maori cloak or a colonial
crinoline. Throughout New Zealands colo-
nial history, the indigenous vegetation of
Aotearoa has been systematically cleared to
develop farmland. Moons dual-purpose
work supplements John and Jo Gows pro-
gram of planting native trees at Connells
Bay. Her work also critiques the sculpture
parks development activities in which
vegetation is cleared to make way for art.
The Gows have embraced a variety of works
that challenge the concept of a sculpture
park and comment on their own activities
at Connells Bay.
Multimedia artist Gaye Jurisich made
another critique while providing a lively,
colorful addition to the environment. Her
temporary installation The Long Lei (2006)
added a sculpture to the sculpture park and
a flowerbed to the garden, and its artifi-
ciality commented on the practice of domes-
tic and civic landscaping. As a temporary
installation, The Long Lei celebrated the
conservation movement; after an
eight-month summer season, the work was
removed, leaving no trace.
Characteristically, the sculpture at Con-
nells Bay is informed by reference to place,
relating to the geographical, social, and
cultural history of the area. Peter Nichollss
river of life, Tomo (2005), which threads
its way through a stand of mature kanuka,
is inscribed with the names of the four
families that first claimed Connells Bay for
Europe. Named for the pot or sink holes
that characterize the geography of karst
country, Tomo twists and turns, a red rib-
bon of timber that traces the patterns of
the underground limestone landscape and
its streams.
Some of the local references embodied in
a sculpture can be fortuitous. For example,
David McCrackens 18 meters of weather-
ripened Cor-ten steel, The Best Laid Plans Go
West (2009), acquired additional meaning
during its installation. The sculpture bar-
rels out of the hillside on an east/west axis,
its title quoting a line of McCrackens poetry
that plays on the alignment of the
sculpture and alludes to the artists earlier,
54 Sculpture 31.3
Regan Gentry, Skeleton Trees, 2009. No. 8 fencing
wire, galvanized pipe, and concrete, 480 x 320 x 32
cm.
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unsuccessful attempt to hydro-inflate a
giant Cor-ten steel balloon for the sculp-
ture park. The title became increasingly
serendipitous as the piece went through a
number of iterations. Plagued by delays
caused by inclement weather and the com-
plex logistics of shipping and trucking 10
tons of steel to the secluded site, time and
again, the Gows and McCracken watched
their best laid plans go west.
Jeff Thomsons corrugated iron Three Cows
Looking Out to Sea (1991/2001) recalls the
agricultural and human history of Connells
Bay. The first of the three individual pieces
was purchased to graze at the Gows rural
property north of Auckland. After moving
to the more extensive pasture of Connells
Bay, the solitary bovine looked lonely so the
Gows commissioned a pair of companions.
Thomson embedded the cows in their envi-
ronment through his careful choice of site.
On a hillside overlooking the bay, one of
the heifers is resting, another is grazing,
and the third looks up as if disturbed by
activity down on the water. Historically,
everything at Connells Bay, including live-
stock, arrived by sea.
Neil Dawsons Other Peoples Houses
(2004) makes a formal statement about
the colonial history of New Zealand and
the local settlement at Connells Bay. The
7.9-meter-high tower of higgledy-piggledy
steel-frame house outlines is painted in
red and white, the traditional colors of
New Zealands corrugated iron and weath-
erboard homes. The work specifically refer-
ences the three 19th- century cottages
tucked away along the waters edge at
Connells Bay.
2
Dawsons work emphasizes
Sculpture April 2012 55
Peter Nicholls, Tomo, 2005. Wood and galvanized
steel, 480 cm. long.
David McCracken, The Best Laid Plans Go West,
2009. Cor-ten steel, 240 x 1800 x 800 cm.
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that these houses are interventions in the
natural environment (and it is always other
peoples houses that blight the landscape.
Social history also informs two important
kinetic works, Phil Prices Dancer (2003) and
Graham Bennetts Reasons to Return (2006).
The leisurely, almost languid Dancer adopts
the yellow of the daffodil fields planted
around the farms cowshed in the 19th
century. The three open-mesh radar dishes
that slowly swirl and twirl with the air
currents in Bennetts Reasons to Return are
rather like latitudinal and longitudinal
navigational devices. More than just a
generic reference to the universal call of
home, the work alludes to the extreme
measures taken by early European settlers
living at Connells Bayat the end of a days
work, they are known to have rowed some
25 kilometers to the Coromandel Peninsula
for an evening of companionship, rowing
home at daybreak for the mornings milking.
While Reasons to Return may have the
appearance of a constantly active signal-
ing system, it is an artistic interpreta-
tion of a functional device. Other works
at Connells Bay, however, retain a utili-
tarian purpose. Crossing over wetlands,
Virginia Kings Oioi Bridge (2002) links
two distinct areas of the sculpture park,
low-lying coastal land and grassy hill-
country.
3
Built of flexible ribs and planks,
this kinetic art-bridge rattles and rolls as
visitors walk over it, generating a stream
of vibrations and clatterings.
4
With water trickling down through over-
flow channels, Cathryn Monros Rise (2001)
appears to be a dam, a functional piece of
environmental engineering. At the top is a
small lake, which explains the purpose of
the dam. Or does it? Monro clearly refer-
ences the artificial lake, but she did not
build a dam. Instead, her work critiques
this intervention in the landscape, one
necessitated by the creation of the sculp-
ture park. The landscaped lake also serves
as a site for sculptureDavid McCrackens
Reeds (2001), which has since been removed
for restoration, was the earliest example.
Julia Orams Bung (2007) also takes to the
water. A giant bath plug apparently float-
ing in the ocean, Bung resonates with the
rising tide of concern about climate
change, while adding a touch of whimsy
to the Connells Bay collection.
The Gows continue to be personally
involved with the sculpture park. In addi-
tion to working closely with artists, John
and Jo Gow personally accompany visitors
on tours of the park. Enjoying financial
56 Sculpture 31.3
Graham Bennett, Reasons to Return, 2006. 725
x 795 cm., with 1000 cm. footprint.
Phil Price, Dancer, 2003. Carbon fiber and fiber-
glass, 600 x 400 x 400 cm.
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security through assured patronage, consis-
tency in management, and a continuity of
vision, their initiative affords great opportu-
nities for fine-tuning. Thus, the collection at
Connells Bay has evolved in a nuanced rela-
tionship to its location, while exemplifying
the diverse themes, forms, materials, and
techniques that characterize large-scale
sculpture in New Zealand.
The land, its cultivation and conservation,
has long been at the heart of New Zealand
art. At Connells Bay, such themes abound,
interpreted through works that range from
artificial flowers and living plants to cast,
figurative sculpture and abstract steel works.
Materials are equally diverse. The corru-
gated iron of Thomsons cows and the No. 8
fencing wire of Gentrys Skeleton Trees are
the building blocks of rural communities
throughout the country. The concrete and
steel of the construction industry give
form to the work of Monro and Bennett.
Jurisich threads mass-produced plastic flow-
ers in The Long Lei, contrasting with Prices
use of high-tech carbon fiber in Dancer
and Angel (2004). Fatu Feuu uses timber;
Booth, local stone; Bob Stewart encour-
ages visitors to stroke and polish the sur-
face of his precious pounamu The Dark
One (2002).
5
Connells Bay Sculpture Park boasts a
veritable history of modern New Zealand
sculpture, nestled in an idyllic seaside set-
ting of coastal lowlands and rolling hill-
sides clothed in native flora. Traditionally,
the Maori regard foliage as the cloak of the
land. At Connells Bay, the cloak is adorned
with contemporary sculptures that respond
to the environment and reference the geo-
graphical, social, and cultural history of
the place.
Robin Woodward is a senior lecturer in art
history at the University of Auckland.
Sculpture April 2012 57
Virginia King, Oioi Bridge, 2002. Aluminum, stainless
steel wire, and silver coins, 120 x 700 x 260 cm.
Notes
1
Auckland also hosts the boutique sculptors sculpture park Zealandia, the home and studio of Terry Stringer, one of New Zealands finest creators of figura-
tive bronze works. Nearby, Brick Bay Sculpture Trail is the countrys most extensive commercial outdoor gallery of large-scale sculpture. Further to the west, in
Kaipara, The Farm has gained world-wide recognition for its collection of work by local and international artists.
2
Of the three houses, one is home to the Gows, another provides a residence for artists. The third is available as accommodation for visitors who wish to stay
at the sculpture park.
3
Oioi grass is a coastal, swamp grass that grows in the low-lying wetlands of Connells Bay.
4
There are three acoustic works at Connells Bay, Kings Oioi Bridge, Phil Dadsons Tenantennae (2005), and Konstantin Dimopouloss Kete (2004), which whis-
tles in the wind.
5
Pounamu, also known as greenstone, is a nephrite jade found on the South Island.
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AMALIE ROTHSCHILD: A RETROSPECTIVE VIEW
Towson University
Center for the Arts Gallery
Osler and Cross Campus Drives
Towson, Maryland
April 19 June 16, 2012
www.towson.edu/artscalendar
AMALIE ROTHSCHILD 34: VESTMENTS
Maryland Institute College of Art
Brown Center Rosenberg Gallery
1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.
Baltimore, Maryland
April 11 April 25, 2012
www.mica.edu/AmalieRothschild
AMALIE ROTHSCHILD Exhibitions
Birth of a Mermaid, 1996
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Sculpture April 2012 67
N
A
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8ot st, l bAMo
Mike Rathbun
Boise Art Museum
The muscular arc of Mike Rathbuns
|e ||oc||cn |e |cono ||me||
|n became visible as soon as one
entered the foyer of the Boise Art
Museum. Even from a distance, this
soaring tour de force made
momentum visible. The tilted ellip-
tical ring, 73 feet across its longer
axis and held aloft by X-shaped sup-
ports, ascended through a spacious
gallery and seemed to burst
through the wall and out into the
Sculpture Court before boomerang-
ing back into the building through
an adjacent room.
|e ||oc||cn |e |cono ||me||
|n was constructed of sustainable
Pacific Northwest lumber, which
Rathbun has employed almost
exclusively over the many years of
his career. Pacific Albus, a poplar
hybrid (and green timber) har-
vested at the east end of the Colum-
bia Gorge (not far from Rathbuns
home in Portland) formed the pale
core of the ellipse. The 14 struts
hoisting it into the air were built
from Douglas fir, the regions em-
blematic workhorse wood.
Rathbun conceived a project so
huge that there was no choice but
to assemble it in situ, a methodology
that introduced an element of risk
and demanded working out, with
exquisite precision, the conceptual
mathematics of construction. Before
arriving in Boise, preparations
included the ripping of 1,400 slats to
accommodate the bend of the ellipse.
|e ||oc||cn |e |cono ||me|| |n
was erected, with near-miraculous
efficiency and speed, by a team of 10
people working 12-hour days for
two weeks. (The same team aided
Rathbun in 1995, when he built a
boat and solo-sailed it across Lake
Michigan for his MFA thesis project.)
The intensity of the on-site building
process is intrinsic to Rathbuns work.
He says that the making of the
sculpture is the true artwork, while
the final manifestation is simply the
record of the journeya solid, three-
dimensional composite of the con-
cepts, energy, and physical effort that
went into the construction.
reviews
Mike Rathbun, The Situation He
Found Himself In (detail), 2011.
Pacific Albus, Douglas fir, cedar,
and hardware, 73 ft. diameter.
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68 Sculpture 31.3
There is an honesty to his exposed
nails and screws, the intentional
gaps in the sheathing, the remnant
scribbles on the wood. At BAM,
especially at the points where the
sculpture seemed to puncture inte-
rior and exterior, one could peer
through to the core and see how it
was constructed. Raw and unfin-
ished, the wood changed over the
course of the showparticularly the
outdoor sectionfurther emphasiz-
ing the impermanence of the work:
at the end of the installation, the
sculpture was dismantled and recy-
cled.
Rathbuns earlier works incorpo-
rated symbolic representations, like
boats, aircraft, thorns, and chains.
The Boise work, in contrast, relied
on abstract formal qualities to con-
vey its theme, which Rathbun calls
heroic/pathetic ironyby which
he means the tension between the
sacred and profane, between lofty
aspiration and mundane drudgery.
The skeletal fir supports were readily
anthropomorphized: with feet plant-
ed firmly on the ground and arms
raised, they appeared under-but-
tressed for their burden. It was as if
the sculpture were a metaphor for
the vicissitudes of life.
The title was appropriated from
a conversation between Rathbun
and his brother Russell, a Lutheran
clergyman. A story from Rathbuns
youth illustrates one potential inter-
pretation. As a teenager, he was a
runner and dreamed of competing
in the Olympics. But he started
smoking, and the situation he found
himself in pitted worthy ambition
against human weakness.
Rathbun states, I am trying to
find epiphanies. These are moments
when for reasons that I cannot
explain, I seem to be connected to
something outside of myselfI expe-
rience a moment of clarity; clarity
about what, I dont knowPerhaps
it is what C.S. Lewis calls a desire
for heaven. With tools in hand and
using unassuming materials,
Rathbun-the- carpenter becomes
Rathbun-the-artist, momentarily
arresting transcendence in a work
of art.
||noc ene|
Wts1 Bottwoob
Andrea Zittel
Regen Projects
With postmodern savvy, Andrea
Zittels new works study frontierism
as a phenomenon whose legacy
continues to reverberate within the
American imagination. Her recent
exhibition featured examples from
two distinct bodies of work. One,
a room-scaled installation, extends
traditional definitions of sculpture
as an object that re-presents the
real in mimetic fashion. The second
presents a phenomenally rich, ongo-
ing body of work that celebrates
traditional womens work as art.
Absent from this exhibition were
the // ||.|n |n|| that brought
Zittel recognition in the early 1970s.
These works offered conceptual
solutions to the high costs and small
spaces of living quarters in cities
like L.A. and New York. Over the
years, Zittel has created an array
of different series, all named //
works, referencing her initials.
Winking at the consumer culture
practice of branding products, in
the mid-90s, she began to probe N
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Above and detail: Mike Rathbun, The Situation He Found Himself In, 2011. Pacific Albus, Douglas fir, cedar, and hard-
ware, 73 ft. diameter.
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Sculpture April 2012 69
B
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the correlation between commercial
product recognition and artworks.
In this vein, she evolved her //
|:ce /e||:|e of 1996, the // com-
partment units of 2001, and
the ongoing // |e|cnc| |n||c|m.
The room-scaled diorama that
opened the show granted a vision of
the Western ranch property where
Zittel currently works. With its
sweeping spaciousness, it is seminally
different from the compact ||.|n
|n|| of earlier years Viewers see a
miniaturized sculpted likeness of
a spacious, rocky terrain as though
glimpsed from the window of an air-
plane. Resembling the landscape
around Joshua Tree and other desert
communities in California and
Nevada, the ranch-style compound
features a cluster of buildings
miniature replicas of the artists stu-
dio, home, and guesthousethat
reveal the human presence.
This sculptural mirage rises on the
crest of a metal grid that details the
lands undulations. The mirage is
modeled with a blindingly white plas-
ter of Paris that manages to convey
the brightness of desert sunlight.
Zittels new work signals a shift in her
study of human habitations. Here,
the intensity and struggle of daily
existence is underscored in ways that
refract her earlier wrangles with that
theme. The emphasis shifts from the
metropolis of greater Los Angeles
to a nature compromised by human
activitythe homestead exists in a
region of abandoned military instal-
lations and nuclear test sites.
On one hand, Zittels work explores
the implicit optimism in the restora-
tive power of nature that seems to
have been a premise for some Land
and Space artists of the 70s. Robert
Smithsons ||c| |e||,, for example,
proposed the power of nature to
restore itself over time if left to its
own cycles of regeneration. By
contrast, Zittels massive installation
alludes to the concept of paradise
lost, leaving viewers to ponder
humanitys relationship to the earth
and natures potential for renewal.
The ethos of personal survival is
writ large in Zittels other major
body of work presented here, //
|n||c|m, which champions tradi-
tional womens handcrafts, ranging
from sewing techniques to knitting,
crocheting, and finger felting. This
series, which began in 2003 (with
an anticipated conclusion in 2013),
advocates the artistic prowess of
womens traditional arts, as mani-
fest in a room dazzlingly filled with
handmade clothes. Showcased are
appliqu jumpers, knit, crocheted,
and felted sweaters, coats, and
dresses. With their sophistication
of color, pattern, and form, these
works convincingly argue for the
erasure of distinctions between art
and craft. One-of-a-kind garments
that easily waltz toe-to-toe with
designer fashions, they allude to
the seasonal cycle, the importance
of annual celebrations, and to time
that travels beyond the clocking
of productivity. Here, the indelible
impact of individuality is affirmed
in the face of industrial replication,
confirming craft as art that reaches
beyond mere decoration to define
those things that make life person-
ally sacred and rarified.
tc||e||e t|c||cco|,c,
Above: Andrea Zittel, A-Z Personal
Uniforms Fall/Winter 2003Spring/
Summer 2013, 200313. Mixed media,
installation view. Right: Andrea Zittel,
Lay of My Land #1, 2011. Steel,
Hydrocal, burlap, sand, stone, and
latex paint, 290.2 x 363.6 x 70.8 in.
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70 Sculpture 31.3
BubsoW, Ntw osK
La Wilson
John Davis Gallery
Now in her mid-80s, Ohio-based,
primarily self-taught La Wilson has
long made resonant, even trans-
gressive-feeling assemblage works.
Her signature form is the box, which
she uses to hold compositions made
up of everyday objects, very much
like a conventional frame provides
a border for a paintings pictorial
space. For years, she has scoured
flea markets in search of antique
packing boxes, the kinds of contain-
ers that once held sewing notions
or hardware.
Over the years, Wilson has gained
a cult following among fellow artists
working in collage and assemblage.
Because her work is more funky-
abstract than literary-romantic, it
has never really sunk into the con-
sciousness of viewers whose under-
standing of box-assemblage sculp-
ture begins and ends with Joseph
Cornell or self- conscious Surrealist
provocation. With Wilsons work, a
winking, postmodern sense of irony
about the appropriated and recon-
textualized can fall flat; her cre-
ations are surreal, abstract, or po-mo
only by accident or by unintentional
affinity, not by design.
In her assemblages, which exude
an air of mystery and playfulness,
she takes such humble items as pen-
cils, dominoes, flat-head nails,
embroidery thread, hair clips, type-
writer keys, and small hand tools
and, through simple gestures like
slicing them in half or placing them
in unusual positions, transforms their
character and meaning. In Wilsons
hands, a clothespin can become
as elegant as a diamond brooch or as
sinister as a dagger. She uses antique
metal type or letter-press type forms,
often stuffing a box full of texture-
yielding objects, such as bullet cas-
ings, beads, or folding yardsticks.
The old wooden boxes become
integral elements of each work and
often set the overall tone, from
subtly subversive to eloquent. In her
recent works, Wilson takes a more
pared-down approach, using fewer
kinds of elements in her composi-
tions. Thus, the ephemeral-feeling
||ooe (2010) consists of just a group
of felt piano hammers placed inside
a small, shallow box, like the deli-
cate, color-streaked shoots of an
exotic tropical plant. In |||| ||||
(2010), a single, large black die with
white dots stands on its own little
shelf in a vertically oriented box
with thick, time-weathered walls;
a larger compartment below is
packed full of black-stained upright
sticks. |c|, H|ocm (2010), an
open, hinged box, reveals faded,
red-and-yellow letter blocks, a green
folding ruler, a blue-painted stone,
a wooden spool, and rolls of white
string, each type of object con-
tained in a separate compartment
like oddly gathered items on a
school-cafeteria tray. Each element
evokes a heightened sense of
awareness in its airless, timeless
little chamber.
Wilson has studied Buddhism for
many years, and its meditative spirit
can be felt in her work, as can a
sense of spontaneity. About the odds
and ends that are her raw materials,
the mostly reclusive artist told me
a few years ago: I just try to find a
home for themThe thing is to go
in and find relationships [between
them] that I never imagined or heard
of or thought about. I just love that
feeling of them coming together.
|ouc|o | 6cme
Ntw osK
Marisa Merz
Barbara Gladstone Gallery
Marisa Merz, one of Arte Poveras
band of stellar sculptors (and the
widow of Mario Merz, who also
belonged to the group), looks to the
attractions of industrial materials.
She has had a long career, her first
solo show occurring in 1967 at
Gallery Gian Enzo Sperone in Turin.
Merz is recognized for her idiosyn-
cratic use of copper wire, clay, and
waxmaterials in keeping with
Arte Poveras preference for humble
substances. For this show, she pre-
sented two works made with metal
sheeting: eo|c, a smallish sculp-
ture reminiscent of an armchair,
and two painted columns hanging
from the ceilingboth from
the larger group |n||||eo (||.|n
:o||o|e; (1966), a title that makes
a strong identification with the Arte
Povera philosophy of connecting art
and life. In the unpainted chair,
silver sheets, folded innumerable
times, create form. The two
columns present painted surfaces;
Merzs use of red, green, and yellow
becomes that much more striking
when the hues are offset by the
silver of the unpainted metal.
Beyond the rough honesty and
simple materials, which are effec-
tive in their own right, lies the prob-
La Wilson, Holy Wisdom, 2010. Mixed
media, 13.5 x 19 x 3.25 in. open.
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Sculpture April 2012 71
lem of showing work such as Merzs
in a prestigious commercial space.
The Arte Povera movement was
committed to a radicalized notion
of sculpture. How can such a stance
be reconciled with the concept of a
commercial gallery, no matter how
sympathetic it may be to the art?
Without belaboring the argument,
it seems fair to say that the white
cube aestheticizes even art whose
homely use of cheap metal mili-
tates against a superficial apprecia-
tion. The gap between the artworks
and their exhibition space should
be acknowledged, for if we remain
unaware of the discrepancy, we can-
not do justice to art whose impulse
has been guided by life experience
and a radical sense of justice.
The two painted columns offer a
rough-and-tumble beauty that is
seductive in its straightforwardness.
They are strongly vertical and main-
tain a dialogue with each other;
the metal pieces hang haphazardly
in open space, so that viewers can
make their way around the entirety
of the work. Merz presents a com-
pelling lyricism based on the
integrity of her craft, which acts as
an alternative to gimmickryideo-
logical or materialof any sort. The
forms articulate an anti-art, an aes-
thetic that rejects the slick in favor
of an uncouth attractiveness. In one
column, a purely silver component
sticks out, while other parts are
messily paintedas if the innate
appeal of color were strong enough
to exist on its own (which indeed it
does). Merzs art shows us that the
humility of industrial materials can
survive any place of exhibition with
real grace. Even if we dont know
where to showor marketthese
sculptures, we can appreciate their
awkward attractiveness.
|cnc||cn 6ccomcn
Ntw osK
Yutaka Sone
David Zwirner
Island, the title of Japanese sculp-
tor Yutaka Sones recent show,
seemed to refer to the remarkable
|||||e |cn|c||cn (200709), a
marble sculpture of New York Citys
most famous borough. Weighing in
at 2.5 tons, but relatively modest
in size, the piece offers buildings,
piers, bridges, and even the paths of
Central Park. Not every structure
is reproduced, of course, though the
amount of detail is mind-boggling
in its accuracy: Sone worked from
photos and took a few helicopter
rides in his quest for specificity.
|||||e |cn|c||cn certainly works
as a sculpture and generates inter-
esting questions about scale and
truth to circumstances. For exam-
ple, why does such close imitation
catch our equally close interest?
Sometimes models of reality
become more interesting than the
reality itself, and Sone deftly under-
scores the similaritiesas well as
the differencesbetween copy and
original. |||||e |cn|c||cn stands
out as a work whose verisimilitude
reiterates the physical reality of
Manhattan, still the center of the
arts in America, and reminds us
that our penchant for the duplicate,
even if the knockoff is obvious, has
become a strong art interest in its
own right. Its exquisite articulation
amounts to a tour de force, in
which information is both accurate
and imagined, leaving viewers to
consider for themselves detail and
overall impression.
The second gallery housed an
environment consisting of individual
sculptures: marble flowers and
trees, accompanied by sculpted rays
of light; several banana trees com-
posed of rattan, metal armatures,
and paint; and a large travelers
palm tree consisting of rattan and
steel. The marble sculptures were
placed more or less equidistantly
from the trees, which encircled the B
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Left: Marisa Merz, Sedia, 1966. Wood
and aluminum, 31.5 x 19.75 x 19.75
in. Below: Marisa Merz, installation
view of Living Sculpture, 2011.
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72 Sculpture 31.3
room. Sone, who makes the marble
pieces with the help of artisans
from southern China, appears to be
making another statement about
the relation of the imaginary to the
real. Yet these sculptures are more
stylized than |||||e |cn|c||cnfor
example, |||| |n |e|ueen |ee
|c , (|ee |on|; (2010), which pre-
sents a cut tree trunk complete with
growth rings next to a starburst
radiating out toward the viewer.
Intensely artificial in its expressive-
ness, the piece is also accurate
at least in regard to the tree trunk.
The effect of the light, of course,
is more faux than accurate.
With the palm and banana trees,
Sone is at pains to be accurate within
reason. In |c|:c| tcmc|||cn
|c.e|e| |c|m |c : (2011), fringes
of unpainted rattan mimic dead
leaves. The work possesses a strong
frontality in its flatness of form,
consisting of a triangle on top of
a steel trunk. Like Sones marble
|c|||e|c ||cue| (2010), a parasitic
plant discovered in the Indonesian
rain forest, the accuracy of the
palm tree is more an argument for
aesthetic pleasure than scientific
knowledge. Still, these works
remain striking as examples of truth-
telling, even if they do not aspire
to trompe loeil perfection. Sones
objects, the six banana plants
included, remain in the viewers mind
because they so effortlessly straddle
the line between truth and appear-
ances.
|cnc||cn 6ccomcn
QuttWs, Ntw osK
James O. Clark and Forrest
Myers
Regina Rex
Western, particularly American,
artists will never cease in their
quest to find the aesthetic in com-
mon objects, to be inventive with
found and discarded materials.
James O. Clark and Forrest Myers,
whose works recently featured in
Luminous Flux, have spent their
careers creating sculptural objects
from discarded plastic, metal, and
wooden detritus and cast-off tech-
nology.
Entering a darkened space, viewers
were immersed in an atmosphere
of glowing lights and deep sounds.
The illumination came from
two sources: a transparent pendant
hanging by a fiber-optic tube from
the ceiling in Clarks |e |o|o|e |
|cu (2011) and a video projecting
an array of primary colors gradually
transitioning through the spectrum
in Myerss four short videos (|||
|e:||cn, ncu, uc |||||cn tc|c|
cno |e|| 0c||e, and |e |mce
/||e| [19892011]). Myers, who is
also known for his inventive furni-
ture designs, installed a couch of
assembled found materials in the
middle of the gallery so that viewers
could watch in comfort.
It was no surprise that the shows
high aesthetic was created with the
humblest of means: Clark and Myers
both came of age with Rauschen-
bergs combines, and they draw on
the 80s aesthetic of repurposing
salvaged materials, giving them
another life. Delving into his uncanny
laboratory of wonders, Clark used a
transparent plastic bag for his sus-
pended sculpture, tied it in a knot,
and filled it with water. Stretched
by the weight of the water and illu-
minated by the refracted light, this
plastic junk sculpture transforms
into a precious object.
Myers relies on flat-screen tech-
nology, showing constellations of
rectangles reminiscent of test pat-
terns on TV screens as they shift in
slow gradation from the coolest to
the warmest hue of each primary
color. His couch serves as a link
between technology and DIY skill. It
looks like the last thing one might
want to sit onold metal springs
jammed carelessly together with
apparent randomness stick out as if
to threaten skirts and trousersyet
it offered surprisingly comfortable
seating. In the juxtaposition of
couch and screen, Myers makes an
interesting comment on the stereo-
typical American living room, with
a wink to his early influencesjazz
and Calder.
Clark and Myers continue to test
the boundaries of high- and low-
tech, bringing the ever-inventive
minds of fixers, handymen, and
masters of all trades into the realm
of art. They use recycled and dis-
carded materials whenever possible
and give them a second life in order
Above: Yukata Sone, installation view of Island, 2011. Below: Yukata Sone,
Little Manhattan, 200709. Marble, 21.75 x 104.375 x 33.5 in.
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Sculpture April 2012 73
to challenge mainstream and tech-
nology-dependent art production.
Their work demonstrates that there
is still a place for quiet, thoughtful,
artistic understatement. Clark and
Myers seduce us through an aes-
thetic that shows a level of refine-
ment and execution consistent with
artists who have spent a lifetime
perfecting their craft.
'o||c |||cnc.c
01t cA, Ntw osK
Jongsun Lee
Sculpture Space
During her two-month residency at
Sculpture Space, Jongsun Lee, a
peripatetic artist and social sculp-
tor, produced thousands of hand-
shaped rice bowls in the studio by
day and presented several interac-
tive performances off site in the
evening. After achieving commercial
success as a traditional figure sculp-
tor, she renounced her material
achievements for a less predictable
life on the road as a visual poeta
role that acknowledges her years
of hardship as a child in South Korea.
Oscillating between attraction and
repulsion, between traditional Asian
motifs and Western themes, Lees
work incorporates sculpture, perfor-
mance, sound, and collaboration.
|nc|, |n|nc|, /no /c|n |c|, a
performance/installation, was held
in a former hardware store, now a
vast open space of bare wood beams
and polished oak floors, with a
small bar and restaurant tucked to
one side. Between the towering
support beams, Lee arranged 18 low
circular tables piled with hundreds
of rice bowls grouped according to
shape and hue. The palm-sized
bowls, face up for filling, emanated
a rough but luminous surface.
The petite artist, dressed in a sunny
yellow dress with a scalloped hem,
rested supine on the floor with her
head concealed under the largest,
most central table. Rising mechani-
cally, her slim figure came to life
and began to skip, lope, and shuffle
barefoot toward and away from a
large man playing a saxophone.
Urgent sounds and gestures from
the artist and aggressive notes from
the sax sounded a dialogue around
the empty bowls. Striding, Lee
began to weave in and out of the
crowd. Was she in control or lost?
Craning to see over the heads of the
after-work crowd of smartly dressed
young professionals, a new stage
was revealed on the screens of
photo-snapping smart phones, ubiq-
uitous in the audience. Taking
advantage of the live video stream-
ing on the phones, one could follow
the artists path as flashes of yellow
dress began to weave a virtual path
from phone to phone, punctuated
by glimpses of her physical body.
The 15-minute performance evoked
anxiety and bewilderment and finally
Left: Installation view of Luminous
Flux, with (left to right) Forrest
Myers, Split Decision, 2011, computer
program on LED, 4.5 min.; Forrest
Myers, Couch Potato, 2011, steel
spring wire; and Jim Clark, The Future
is Now, 2011, water, polyethene plas-
tic, acrylic, and fiber optics. Below:
Jongsun Lee, Knot, Unknot, And Again
Not, 2011. Performance.
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74 Sculpture 31.3
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prompted contemplation of how to
respond as a witness to a brave act.
Lee sees her performance as bring-
ing the viewer a little closer to
the ambivalent heart of humanitys
inexorable social drama.
Lees studio is in New York City,
but international residencies fuel
her minimal and improvisational
style. She responds to the social
context of each new place, and in
Utica, she worked with sax player
and growling singer Michael Patrei
and his band, The Swordfish Trom-
bones, whom she met at a local
coffee house open mic night. Her
second Utica performance, tc|:|,
was choreographed with Sculpture
Space studio manager, Scott
Hartmann, who performed the ritual
filling and spilling of a yellow
metal bucket of rice hanging from
an overhead beam 25 feet above
the ground. At the end, the audience
gathered in lines as Lee handed out
small bags of ricea memento
for us, but also a gesture that many
around the world would consider
life-sustaining.
6|nc |o||c|
MAsrA, 1tXAs
Bettina Landgrebe
Chinati Foundation
3ec|en u||| c |cmme|, a multimedia
installation by Bettina Landgrebe,
offered a poignant and powerful
elegy for the nearly 1,000 women
who have been brutally tortured and
murdered in the borderlands around
Jurez, Mexico, since 1993. Part of
the Chinati Foundations Open House
Weekend, the installation appeared
at the unlikely venue of Big Bend
Coffee Roasters.
Consisting of 576 white plaster-like
models of human hearts, 476
of which were suspended from the
ceiling by thin red filaments, 3ec|en
u||| c |cmme| formed a cloud-like
shape whose individual elements
only became recognizable on close
inspection. A womans name, age,
year of death, and cause of death
were hand-printed in red paint on
each heart. The voice of reader
Amira de la Garza quietly filled the
room with a somber, almost musi-
cal recitation of the disturbing
facts: Carmen Patricia Ramirez
Sanchez, 34, 2005, Shot to Death.
Tomasa Chavarria Rangel, 54, 2005,
Beaten with a Hammer. Maria
Eugenia Mendoza Arias, 28, 1998,
Strangled, Sex Murder, Head
Wound...
Landgrebe, who is the lead con-
servator at the Chinati Foundation,
heard about the murders when
she first visited Marfa in 1995. The
senseless brutality of the crimes
continued to haunt her. In 2007, she
came across |e |||||n ||e|o, Diana
Washington Valdezs book about the
murders, and the idea for the instal-
lation began to materialize. Ninety-
nine percent of the murders are
unsolved. Landgrebe is deeply dis-
turbed by the fact that the perpe-
trators know that they can get
away with it, that there will be no
consequences. She says, Women
of all ages are raped and murdered,
including infants and women in
their 80s. Any and every woman can
be targeted.
Although the subject is grim, the
installation was visually light, ghost-
like, and ethereal. Landgrebe
wanted it to be beautiful, for those
women. Over the last two years,
after work and on weekends, she
made the 576 cast hearts. The 476
inscribed hearts represent women
who were murdered between 1993
and 2006 and whose identities are
known. Landgrebe says that the
name is important. Its who we are,
our identity, our relation to our fam-
ily and our friends. In the installa-
tion, 100 hearts remained blank.
Arranged in a circle on the floor, they
represented those women who
have not been identified or whose
remains have not been found.
The degree of violence inflicted on
these women exceeds what was typi-
cal of sex crimes in Mexico before
1993; some sociologists believe it to
be a symptom of the societal dys-
function caused by powerful drug
dealers and their cohorts, which now
pervades every aspect of the border
culture. As viewers turned from the
constellation of hearts to head out
the door, they faced south, where, as
Landgrebe says, just across the river,
you can see Jurez, where women
face a daily struggle to live, work,
and fight for existence.
|c|||c |o|e
Bettina Landgrebe, Beaten with a Hammer, 2011. Cellulose-based plaster-like material, red archival felt-tip pen, and red filament, 3.25 x 3.25 x 4.5 in.
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Sculpture April 2012 75
011AwA
Jinny Yu
Patrick Mikhail Gallery
Nominally a painter, Jinny Yu
explored materiality in her Latest
from New York exhibition, which
included sculpted aluminum and oil
pieces. She sees herself at the inter-
stices of identityof Korean birth,
living in Ottawa, practicing in New
York, Italy, Montreal, and elsewhere.
Her work also operates in liminali-
tiesbetween installation, sculp-
ture, painting, gesture, and illusion.
The seven works in the show mark
conversations across these interme-
diate states, and while they make art
historical references, they maintain
a safe distance from the specific
objects of the past. Yus intermedia-
tions can be taken at face value now
that the confines of Modernist media
categories have been thoroughly
undone.
|c|n||n, H|eo, cn Hc|| (2011) is
an installation framed by ivory-black
pigment. The reflective aluminum
square is felt as a presence and as a
void when contrasted by the paint
the scale, painterly textures, and site-
specificity evoke Lawrence Weiners
/ ,o \ ,o |||0//| 0 || |/|||6
0| |||0| H/|| 0| ||/||
0| H/||30/|| ||0| / H/|| (1968).
Many of Yus works play with the
notion of what is optically close,
but physically distant, and in this
instance, the aluminum square
on the wall seems sunken within it.
The rumpled forms of ||e:c||co
(2011) stumble into space while graz-
ing wall and floorwith this sculpt-
ed physicality, the thin, abstract, ver-
tical marks read as a trompe loeil fin-
ish, suggesting the directional grain
of brushed stainless steel. Yus
marks suggest industrial applications
of oil for the protection and finish of
metals. The folds of this piece reveal
a uniform, white backa ready-
made artifact of her industrial sup-
port that reads more as painted
than the shimmering front. t|om|eo
(2011), a small piece, features the
sculpted forms of this white field. The
wall-hung 3en| (2011) accomplishes
a similar dialogue between material
and illusion, but here, Yus marks
seems more organic and intentional
still, her purposeful gestures bring
full circle the accidental Abstract
Expressionist drips and other pat-
terns on Donald Judds galvanized
boxes. Yus metallic sheen adds
another layer of complexitythe col-
ors of reflected light sometimes have
physical presence, they seem to be
of the work and far more concrete
than their condition as situational
phenomena. The rumpled, floor-to-
ceiling ||c|e (2011) also possesses
this effect, the long thin metal in dia-
logue with Roy Lichtensteins brush-
stroke paintings from the mid-1960s
as well as Matthew Ritchies cut
metal pieces from recent years.
The piece with the greatest pres-
ence in this exhibition was a wall-
sized work (with a nod to Richard
Serra) consisting of black oil paint
applied to a thin aluminum support.
|c|n||n (2011) is a conceptual title,
a label of emphasis or priority for
a work that is self- evidently painted
but that has an unconventional,
almost immaterial ground. Most pro-
nounced here, but true of all Yus
works, her systematic touch-marks
create a different kind of modeling,
one in which any illusionistic spaces
seem consequential, sculpted by
the materiality of paint and the opti-
cally engaged empty spaces.
H||||cm / 6cn|
8tstt W
Wilhelm Mundt
Buchmann Galerie
Wilhelm Mundts boulder-shaped
sculptures are immediate, yet they
seem to be all about process and
duration. They are also physically
Right: Jinny Yu, (left) Stroke, 2011, oil
on aluminum, 138 x 24 in.; (right)
Bent, 2011, oil on aluminum, 24 x
17.5 in. Below: Jinny Yu, Precarious,
2011. Oil on aluminum, 57 x 24 in.
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76 Sculpture 31.3
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polished and perfect. Mundt has
been making these brightly colored
Trashstones, as he calls them,
since 1989. A stone in an intense
shade of yellow bears the number
493, testament to the artists stick-
to-it-iveness and inveterate fascina-
tion with packed, covered, painted,
and polished detritus.
Though they seem of another
world, as if tumbled down from the
cosmos to cool in our mortal realm,
there is an array of familiar stuff
inside these craggy forms: garbage,
studio debris, found objects, and
personal information, all of which
gets sealed within the rumpling sur-
face skin of the rock. Mundt bundles
motley collections of objects, then
covers them with a fabric made out
of glass fiber. He treats the surface
with polyester gel and hardeners,
then repeatedly sands and smoothes
it, leaving the result to dry for many
hours. Once dried, he sands it again
and then waxes it, creating a top
layer that is somewhere between an
oozing plastic topography and the
hood of a Corvette. Weatherproofed
by the glossy resin surface, a Trash-
stone might sit outside in a wide,
open field, the lunar figure to a pla-
nar ground.
Mundts Trashstones are some-
thing like time capsules, except that
their hard carapaces will never be
cracked, and memories of the past
will remain entombed inside the
rock in perpetuity. A row of them sit-
ting on the floor of the gallery might
suggest colorful space junk. Here,
a green Trashstone the size of a
small car was followed by an orange,
then a yellow, a black, a white, and
a small blue one, all aligned below
a black and white photograph of a
meteor. The autobiographical
component did not get lost in the
extraterrestrial feel of this installa-
tion; instead, it expanded to
become meme-like. Mundt is every-
man: his garbage is our garbage,
the worlds garbage. The shift from
useful to useless parallels the shift
from personal to impersonal. Scrap-
paper notes with ideas, materials,
and measurements give shape
to the formless Trashstone Inside,
forgotten, no longer central to the
making of the object, their use
diminishes. They are silt-like rem-
nantsthe embalmed memories
of the things makingor less poeti-
cally, they are refuse dumped in
landfills, giving form to an artificial
topography that is reshaping the
planet.
Mundts Trashstones are rare in
their keen juxtaposition of high and
low: they maintain an intellectual
sophistication while also being sim-
ply mesmerizing, beautiful, and fun.
The power of a Trashstone lies in
its statement and presence, both of
which are ecological in nature.
t|c||c e||cnc.c
j tsusAttM
Micha Ullman
The Israel Museum
This impressive retrospective brought
together 40 of Micha Ullmans
sculptures selected from different
periods in his 50-year career. It also
featured works on paper, as well as
documentation of his many site-
specific works, including ||||c|,, the
underground cell with empty shelves
that he dug out in Berlins Bebel-
platz, the site of the 1933 Nazi book
burning. Like its sister-piece |o|nc\,
on the grounds of the Israel
Museum, ||||c|, offers continually
fluctuating viewpoints, set in motion
by its shifting cosmic elements,
shadows, and reflections.
Human-scale, floor-bound objects
in Minimalist geometric shapes and
works featuring only sand dominated
the exhibition. The objects consisted
of rusted iron plates, angled so
that layers of red sand covering their
upper surfaces were just held in
check. The juxtaposition of these dis-
sonant materials, one hard and
cold, the other soft and elusive, and
the tension between them, may
be viewed as indicative of Ullmans
attitude toward the world beyond
art, that dialogue and give-and-take
are possible between people having
different or conflicting views.
These constructions, arranged in
descending order of size, formed a
single work based on the archetypal
image of a house. ||on|||, a sta-
ble form, was followed by |c,, an
upside-down house, both from 1988.
Fragmented pieces of furniture
came next, some half-buried in the
floor, giving the ambivalent impres-
sion of either a sinking building or a
structure rising from ruins. Casting
ones mind back to recent ecological
disasters, this scenario assumed
a certain topicality.
||c:e, a video from 1975 docu-
menting a performance by Ullman,
Left: Wilhelm Mundt, installation
view of From Trash to Treasure,
2011. Below: Micha Ullman, Map,
2002. Iron and red sand, table: 110
x 78 x 85 cm., chair: 45 x 45 x 85 cm.
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Sculpture April 2012 77
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then a young lecturer at Jerusalems
Bezalel Academy, attests to his early
fascination with sand. It shows him,
brush in hand, sweeping particles
into hills and depressionsa ges-
tural activity directly associated with
the sand tables that he would pro-
duce 20 years later.
The other prominent feature of this
show, the tables mostly take the
form of raised containers filled with
layers of red sand, their surfaces
marked with ridges, paths, and pits.
In one case, the markings resemble
the negative imprint of a fish, in
others, eating utensils. In |cthe
Hebrew word means a tablecloth
as well as a land mapa chair was
drawn up to a table where four
holes for glasses had been cut into
the sand. The imagery seemed
to allude to domestic life, but also,
perhaps, to political discourse around
a table.
Ullmans distinctive sand-throwing
technique reached new heights
with Heoo|n, an installation that
he created only days before the
opening, when 100 guests, volunteer
art students, were invited to attend
a pseudo-wedding ceremony. Once
they were seated, Ullman threw
clouds of red sand across the floor.
The space was then vacated
with minimum disturbance. What
remained was a carpet of sand
smeared with footprints and marks
of furnitureand, in the area where
the wedding canopy had been raised,
shards of the glass traditionally bro-
ken at Jewish weddings. The result
was a huge, abstract painting con-
taining memory traces of this event,
but with other scary connotations.
/ne|c |e.|ne
loWboW
Shirazeh Houshiary
Lisson Gallery
Shirazeh Houshiarys No Boundary
Condition presented itself as an
exhibition of paradoxespaintings
that felt three-dimensional, man-
made objects that felt organic,
chaotic sculptural compositions that
somehow seemed simple. Works
such as |c:onc (2011) created a
feeling not unlike an erupting storm,
multiple spiraling forms crashing
into one another, tumulus forms
reminiscent of conflicting turbulent
airflows. Yet, despite this turbulence,
the piece gave off an odd sense
of calm. The curvature of the cast
stainless steel followed an organic
flow and, in combination with the
dominant matte-green color, evoked
the feeling of standing in a meadow
with a gentle breeze.
The two floor pieces ||e|:| (2011)
and ec| (2011) created their own
contradictory environment, but in
a very different way. Their elegant,
flowing forms consisted of a large
number of small, anodized aluminum
cuboids. Positioned diagonally
opposite each other, the two works
felt connected but still distinctly
separate, the warm magenta of
||e|:| twinkling under the lights in
contrast to the duller blue of ec|.
Despite their construction from such
simple building blocks, both works
resolved into complex, sinuously
contoured organic figures, the con-
vex shape of ||e|:| suggesting a
feminine form, complimented and
opposed by the more masculine
ec|. Though linked, the pair were
distinctly different, separate.
Houshiary manages to moderate
between these opposing forces, cre-
ating beauty from banality, harmony
out of discord, and balance from
instability.
The five-meter-high |||n o|n|e|,
presented in the garden area, was
by far the most impressive piece of
the exhibition. Intertwining strings
of polished stainless steel spiraled
skywards, drawing the viewers gaze
with them. Again, Houshiary pre-
sented a fantastic contradiction
the flowing metallic forms feeling
more organic than industrial.
Floating into the sky, delicate, frag-
ile, and ephemeral, they seemed
almost weightless.
Like the elements of |c:onc, |||n
o|n|e|s intertwining forms
seemed to visualize a turbulent air-
flow, a chaotic swirl like a powerful
tornadothe imagery emphasized
by strong spotlights illuminating
the work from below as darkness fell
around it. The calm of early evening
further accentuated the inherent
contradictions: calm born of chaos,
simplicity born of complicated inter-
relations, and organic beauty born
of industrial materials and processes.
Therein lies the greatest contra-
diction of Houshiarys work. Despite
the complexity and disorder, there
is an elegance, beauty, and tranquility
that leaves the viewer in a calm
Left: Micha Ullman, Wedding (detail),
2011. Sand-throwing installation.
Below: Shirazeh Houshiary, Lacuna
(Wall Piece), 2011. Cast stainless
steel, 80 x 220 x 80 cm.
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78 Sculpture 31.3
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state of awe rather than confusion.
There is a clear beautyan organic,
minimalistic aestheticwithin these
works, but also a fantastic depth, a
sense of intrigue, and perhaps even
wonder. These paradoxical works
prove themselves not only a feast
for the eyes but a surprisingly
rewarding experience for the soul
as well.
|c|n |co||eoe
SAW1t Aso AWb 8utWos
At sts
Sofia Donovan
Stuart Contemporary and Federico
Towpyha Arte Contemporaneo
Sofia Donovan, a multifaceted young
Argentine-born artist living in Chile,
works in photography, video, painting,
and sculpture. In her recent work,
she has developed an interesting play
between form and content, using
ceramic to create amazing sculptures
that carry a powerful physical pres-
ence. Donovans works investigate the
human body and its representation.
Over the last couple of years, her
search has emphasized the mediated
body in its daily environment. A good
example, according to the artist, is
the bodys role in medicine. Donovan
questions whether the body still func-
tions as a vehicle for experience and
relations with other people or if it has
been reduced to a mere object.
Over the last two years, Donovans
road has led her to imposing bio-
morphic glazed ceramic sculptures
that highlight the constant tension
between the anthropomorphic and
metaphorical worlds generated
by the bodys formal and material
aspects. These works set up an
interesting dialogue. Bodily shapes
and textures interact with materials
totally strange to the body itself,
creating moments of doubt and
ambiguitya fundamental concept
in Donovans workthat suggest or
insinuate intimate queries. Nothing
is obvious; the viewers fantasy
and intellect construct the sense,
and even form, of these works.
Most people see organs or phallic
forms, but the sexuality is more
nuanced, with suggestive curves, ins
and outs, concave and convex, femi-
nine and masculine, and full and
empty pairings. Most of this effect is
caused by the addition of unexpected
materials into the ceramic universe;
we must dig into the details to
understand the whole story. Indus-
trial materials come in and out, play-
ing alter ego to the natural clay.
Donovans artifice generates a sym-
bolic structure that surrounds every-
thing and gives the work another
dimension. The interaction of oppo-
site forces is a constant in her work,
creating an atmosphere that seduces
the mind. With a nod to Carl Jung,
Donovan says, Im deeply concerned
about these pieces as objects of
seduction, I want them to question
an unknown area in the relationship
of biology and technique, to [probe]
through the human body to regions
less common, awakening sensitive
experiences full of humor and sym-
bolic content in the spectator.
Contemporary art cries out for
an audience with an educated eye,
demanding intellectual activity.
Defying all limits of good taste or
decorum and incorporating new
themes, materials, forms, and tech-
niques, it creates infinite ways for
the viewer to learn. And when the
proposal not only introduces new
and revolutionary ideas, but also
arouses passions and emotions, art
trespasses the boundaries of beauty
and contemplation to become chal-
lenge. Donovans sculptures gener-
ate an immediate attraction or
repulsion, many times because of
Left: Shirazeh Houshiary, Tear, 2011.
Anodized aluminum, 123.5 x 37 x
69 cm. Right: Sofia Donovan, Sticky
Trap, 2011. Ceramic, 28 x 32 x 47 cm.
Below: Sofia Donovan, De Los Pelos,
2011. Ceramic and copper wire, 48
x 63 x 20 cm.
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Sculpture April 2012 79
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the erotic feelings they may trigger.
Yet the sculptures suggest more
than they reveal. Our subjective fan-
tasies are responsible for making
Donovans insinuations stand out in
a concrete way. Color, form, size,
and texture all cooperate to create
an immediate reference to the
human body, but even that idea is
produced in the mind of the specta-
tor. The most important key lies in
the irrational responseprofoundly
visceral and intimateof the view-
ers body, which allows the mind to
enjoy what the senses capture.
|c||c tc|c||nc 3co|c
BoWs koWs
Art Hong Kong 11
Hong Kong Convention and
Exhibition Centre
If there was one word to describe the
fourth edition of Art Hong Kong (also
known as Art HK 11), it would be
buzzing. The hum of the Hong Kong
Convention and Exhibition Centre
in Wan Chai could practically be felt
next door at the Grand Hyatt
and down into the subway tunnels.
Nearly 64,000 visitors came from
across the globe to discover the
newest offerings from 260 contempo-
rary galleries hailing from 38 coun-
tries. Sculpture played a unique role
in shaping the landscape of Art Hong
Kong by acting as congregation
posts (Takashi Murakamis oe|||c|
||cue|, recently shown in the halls
of Versailles) and geographic markers
(Jeff Koonss brightly striped collabo-
ration with BMW at the center of
the main hall). Some of the most
respected and recognizable names
in the realm of contemporary art
supplied the sculptural highlights of
Art HK 11.
The entrance to the fair was difficult
to miss with Paul McCarthys three-
story |coo|e cmc|c |e|:|o |n||c
|c||e, presented by London/Zrich-
based Hauser & Wirth. With tongue-
in-cheek details including gold labels
at the neck and body, the cartoon
boldness of this mammoth bottle
keenly reminded viewers of its absur-
dity as a valuable object. The condi-
ment itself recalls McCarthys earlier
practice as a performance artist.
Olafur Eliassons 'co| |o|c| .|eu
(2011), a sculpture resembling a
solar-paneled telescope, refracted
shards of light throughout the
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery booth. The
Icelandic artists most recent mani-
festation of optical phenomena con-
sisted of three conjoined geometric
elements, mirrored on the inside,
then mounted on an iron stand. The
booth also featured studies and wall-
mounted spectrums, along with
two hanging, hexagonal, colored-
glass mobiles that radiated vivid
shades of pinks, blues, and yellows.
Cheim & Read presented three
sculptures by Lynda Benglis that
were among the most visually impos-
ing and compelling sights of the fair.
t||:cc tc|,c||o, eme| (|o||e|;,
and ||.e| H|c||| warped the legacies
of ancient, patriarchal mythologies
into hardened surfaces of stainless
steel and gold leaf, tempered by soft,
flowing movements. The gallery
juxtaposed Bengliss heroic sculpture
on the exterior of its space with the
piercing, intimate dreams of Louise
Bourgeois tucked inside the booth.
Outside the convention center,
Zhang Huans ||ee |eco |\ /|m
stood roughly 26 feet high and
almost 60 feet wide. Weighing 15
tons, his re-imagined Chinese
mythological figure incorporates ele-
ments of Tibetan Buddhist statues.
The three-headed (one traditional,
one a portrait, and one a self-por-
trait) copper leviathan stretched out
its elongated limbs across the 1881
Heritage Grand Piazza (the original
site of the Hong Kong Marine Police)
in Kowloon. Commissioned by local
dealer Edouard Malingue, Huan
cited a recent trip to China as inspi-
ration for the work, which is about
resurrecting the spirit and meta-
phorically reversing destruction of
Buddhist sculptures on the main-
land.
Art Hong Kong was recently
acquired by the MCH Group (the
company that produces both Art
Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach),
so perhaps the best is still to come
for this young contemporary fair
that has earned its place on the
global contemporary arts calendar.
|cnc 3e|| |ccn
Above: Olafur Eliasson, Your plural
view, 2011. Mirror, stainless steel,
and aluminum, 182 x 188 x 208
cm. Right: Paul McCarthy, Daddies
Tomato Ketchup Inflatable, 2007.
Inflatable sculpture. Both works from
Art Hong Kong 11.
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80 Sculpture 31.3
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isc PEOPLE, PLACES, AND EVENTS
On October 15, 2011, the recipients of the 2011 Outstanding Student
Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards attended an award
presentation and exhibition opening at Grounds For Sculpture (GFS)
in Hamilton, New Jersey. Johannah Hutchison, Executive Director
of the ISC, introduced the winners of the competition with accolades
for their accomplishment and praise for their commitment to the
field of contemporary sculpture. Her remarks ended with the presen-
tation of award certificates and a cocktail reception in the Domestic
Arts Building at GFS, where the winning student work was exhibit-
ed. This year, the show will also travel to Chicago.
The 2011 student awards competition was a great success,
with participation from 190 schools, which nominated a total of
485 students. Nominees hailed from numerous U.S. and interna-
tional institutions, including schools in Portugal, Romania,
Pakistan, Canada, Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland,
Finland, South Africa, and the Netherlands. From this pool of tal-
ented nominees, jurors DeWitt Godfrey, artist, educator, and Chair
of Fine Arts at Colgate University; Brooke Kamin Rapaport, inde-
pendent curator and writer; and John Lash, artist and CEO of the
Digital Atelier, selected 15 winners and 14 honorable mention
recipients.
Award recipients receive numerous
benefits, including participation in the
Fall/Winter exhibition at GFS; publication
of their work in Sculpture magazine and
on <www.sculpture.org>; a chance to win
a residency in Switzerland to study with
world-renowned sculptor Heinz
Aeschlimann; a one-year ISC membership,
including a subscription to Sculpture
magazine; an opportunity to participate in
the traveling Outstanding Student
Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture
Awards exhibition, hosted by esteemed art
organizations; and an award cer-
tificate and recognition letter from
the ISC, signed by the Executive
Director and Chair of the ISC Board
of Trustees.
Established in 1994, the Out-
standing Student Achievement
in Contemporary Sculpture Award
was created to recognize young
sculptors and encourage their con-
tinued commitment to the field of
sculpture. Through this initiative,
the ISC hopes to encourage use of
its many resources to assist students and faculty with their pro-
fessional development. The program also spotlights participating
universities, colleges, and art schools and their undergraduate
and graduate sculpture programs.
For more details about the 2011 Outstanding Student Achieve-
ment in Contemporary Sculpture Awards or to find out about
the 2012 competition, visit <www.sculpture.org>, e-mail
<studentawards@sculpture.org>, or call 609.689.1051, x305.
1
3
THE I SC 2011 OUTSTANDI NG STUDENT ACHI EVEMENT AWARDS
4
1
Recipients of the 2011 Outstanding Student
Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award: Ryan
Aragon, Dustin Boise, Derek Bourcier, Jason Carey-
Sheppard, Leah Gadd, Gayle Janzow, Trevor Lalaguna,
Camila Nagata, Oscar Peters, David Platter, Trudy
Rogers-Denham, Tom Schram, Jeremy Smith, Brittany
Watkins, Zane Wilcox.
2
Ryan Aragon and his award
winning Phonesynthesis II.
3
Student Award Show
opening guests view David Platters Charting the Self.
4
Student Award Show opening attendees.
2
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