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July/August 2016
Vol. 35 No. 6

A publication of the
International Sculpture Center

This selection of shows has been curated by Sculpture magazine editorial staff and includes just a few of the great shows around the world.

Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn: Tom Sachs
Through August 14, 2016
A self-designated “handyman,” Sachs draws inspiration from the collective American imagination, conflating the status symbols of mass culture—weapons, fast food, hip hop, surfing, and skateboarding—with the elite trappings of a luxurious and conforming wealth. Though his recent work applies that DIY aesthetic to the larger, ritualistic worlds of the space program and the Japanese tea ceremony, “Boombox Retrospective 1999–2016” returns to singular hand-crafted objets. Eighteen sculptural boomboxes, hovering between art and science, function and mythology, pay tribute to the defining icon of street music culture. These clever products of bricolage use a specialized language of construction, inventively deploying everything from plywood and foam to duct tape and found objects—and they all work. Each stereo has been used before and will be activated again in a series of public programs featuring live DJ sets. For Sachs, thriving, even playing, is the ultimate objective of life—and that life of creative play requires an accompaniment, both visual and aural, capable of turning survival tools into works of art.

Web site: www.brooklynmuseum.org

Tom Sachs, Clusterfuck.
Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg: Lara Almarcegui
Through September 4, 2016
A specialist in urban excavations, Almarcegui, who represented Spain in the 2013 Venice Biennale, offers viewers a heightened awareness of the city as a product of both cultural and natural phenomena. Using wastelands and buildings to reflect on the evolution of the urbis, she lays bare geographical, social, historical, and environmental conditions through time—sometimes burrowing so far down that she hits “natural terrain” uncontaminated by human hands. Each of her thoughtful and engaged projects, including rubble mountains, archaeological digs, and guides to modern ruins and derelict sites, has expanded our imaginative vision, as well as the reality, of such already storied metropolises as London, Beirut, Vienna, Milan, São Paulo, and Venice. Gypsum, her new installation, probes the geologic strata beneath the museum’s plaster walls in search of their raw mineral counterpart. Working backward from one of the world’s most ubiquitous building finishes, she ends up in a mysterious subterranean world, trading architectural order for shapeless powdery possibilities.

Web site: www.casino-luxembourg.lu

Lara Almarcegui, Gypsum.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia: Rodney McMillian
Through August 14, 2016
Deeply attuned to the social systems that shape individual lives, McMillian challenges these forces directly: going large in scale through small actions, altering post-consumer objects to reveal latent ideologies, and exposing the means of building (and maintaining) a vulnerable citizenship. While his recent exhibition at the Studio Museum Harlem focused on myths of American domes­ticity, “The Black Show” explores the true “ruffneck constructivist” (to use Kara Walker’s term) nature of his larger project. A tightly focused selection of new and recent sculptures, videos, and paintings (another group of his often three-dimensional “Landscape Paintings” is also on view at MoMA PS1) traces the cockeyed intersection of race, class, gender, and U.S. socio­economic policy. Using science fiction as a filter, these works consider blackness as subject, form, and process, imagining fantastic transformation as one path to the unraveling of injustice.

Web site: www.icaphila.org

Rodney McCmillian, Many moons.
Kolumba, Cologne: Bethan Huws
Through August 22, 2016
Though Huws is sometimes considered a conceptualist, her true interest lies in the experience of art. From architectural interventions to sculptures, films, and performances, her work echoes her insistence that if “we don’t want to fall into the trap of theory we have to check it out with the body.” Sensory stimuli and intellectual impulses come together in her precisely crafted and associatively vague work, which interweaves various inspirations, including childhood memories of Wales, experiences on the Plateau des Milles­vaches, and a longstanding fascination with Duchamp’s “human truth.” Quirky sculptural re-readings of Duchampian touchstones, semantic doppelgangers parroting trees, ephemeral, living tableaux, and a flotilla of tiny boats, each made from a single reed, spark moments of unexpected poetic discovery—visual pyrotechnics on a par with the literary experiments of Beckett, Joyce, Apollinaire, and Mallarmé, though in her case humanizing wit tempers clever conceit. “Culture, Language, and Thought” places Huws’s work in a stimulating dialogue with art history (the museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne, Kolumba, incorporates the ruins of a Gothic church), setting up unlikely correspondences and ruptures that free objects from the straitjacket of conventional meaning.

Web site: www.kolumba.de

Bethan Huws, installation view of "Culture, Language, and Thought."
Leopold Museum, Vienna: Berlinde De Bruyckere
Through September 5, 2016
Among contemporary artists, De Bruyckere is unique in her ability to see beyond the surface of the human figure and feel the body as unrelenting physicality—meat, tissue, and sinew. Fascinated by medieval and early Renaissance religious imagery (as well as ancient mythology), she finds a contemporary idiom for the intense physical suffering that accompanies incarnation, both human and animal. Though we have become almost immune to images of pain and violence, these fragments of pallid skin, torn muscles, and gaping wounds, brought to visceral life through nothing more than wax, resin, rope, and worn leather and textiles, restore the possibility of sensitivity. “Suture,” the first comprehensive survey of her work in Austria, finds a precedent for the transformations, metamorphoses, and contradictions at the heart of her vision within the obsessions of Viennese Modernism. Like De Bruyckere, Klimt, Schiele, and Kokoschka recognized the flesh, linking Eros and Thanatos in sensually rich and emotionally disturbing works, while laying bare the tensions that blur carnality into compassion and shade sins of the flesh into sins against the flesh.

Web site: www.leopoldmuseum.org


Berlinde De Bruyckere, Eén.
Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts: Richard Nonas
Through September 5, 2016
For five decades, Nonas has created works with a terse, reduced vocabulary that belies their power to alter our sense of space, time, landscape, and architecture. His totemic sculptures—made from earthy and industrial, almost timeless materials (wooden railroad ties, granite curbstones, massive boulders, and thick steel plates)—have reimagined space and terrain all over the world. Horizontally oriented, ground-based, and wall-mounted, his serialized geometric forms, executed in a wide range of dimensions and weights, command their environments while retaining an intimate, human scale. The Man in the Empty Space, one of his most ambitious projects to date, treats MASS MoCA’s Building 5 (nearly a football field in length) with all the respect of a “single place,” filling it (and two adjacent galleries) with quietly powerful sculptures, including Single Artificer, a new work consisting of 52 weathered railroad ties arranged in a gracious curve. This former manufacturing plant makes a particularly fitting venue for Nonas, who has spent his life, since the early days of his guerrilla exhibitions, under the spell of decaying, industrial buildings.

Web site: www.massmoca.org


Richard Nonas, installation view at Fergus McCaffrey.
MoMA PS1, Queens, New York: Vito Acconci
Through August 30, 2016
Acconci’s last big show (Milwaukee Art Museum, 2002) surveyed his boundary-straddling hybridizations of architecture/sculpture/furniture, many designed for the public realm. “Where We Are Now (Who Are We Anyway?) 1976” goes back to the roots of his radical and subversive approach to the human condition, bringing together a selection of early works based in sexuality, voyeurism, identity, and raw physicality. These actions and performances, documented in photography, film, and video, already begin to blur distinctions between public and private, artist and viewer, work and environment. From Following Piece (1969) in which he tailed random passersby to Seedbed (1972) in which he audibly masturbated for eight hours a day under the feet of visitors to the Sonnabend Gallery, to Where We Are Now (Who Are We Anyway?)—uncannily reinstalled here—in which a wooden plank extends through an open window and morphs into a diving board suspended over moving traffic, Acconci’s work exemplifies the unconventional energy and innovative promise of a taunting, teasing world that challenges functional and conceptual taboos.

Web site: http://momaps1.org

Vito Acconci, Where We Are Now (Who Are We Anyway?).
MoMA PS1, Queens, New York: Thea Djordjadze
Through August 29, 2016
Created from humble materials and domestic detritus (wood, clay, plaster, glass, fabric, soap, and cardboard), Djordjadze’s elusive sculptures and installations are characterized by fragility and transience. Seemingly produced on the spur of the moment, they crystallize the process of their production and possible alteration through time, manifesting as temporarily inscribed “gestures” in an exhibition space. Though they resemble familiar forms such as household objects, architectural elements, and presentation devices (plinths, display cases, and cabinets) and hint at narrative and personal recollection, these inexplicable assemblages refute explanation. Djord­jadze describes her practice in terms of poetic form, comparing the dialogue between her works to the relationship between words. The artifacts themselves project a certain power, retaining something of the aura that sparks the thrill of Surrealist juxtaposition or infuses Beuys’s materials with shamanistic/ ritualistic potency, but their efficacy is held in check by a doubting literalism—an effective and sometimes uncomfortable combination.

Web site: http://momaps1.org

Thea Djordjadze, view of installation in progress.
Museum Ludwig, Cologne: Huang Yong Ping
Through August 28, 2016
Huang, one of the most influential figures in recent Chinese art, rejects the familiar and the soothing. Since moving to Paris in 1989, his overriding concern has been to confront the structures and operations of ideological hegemony, challenging definitions of history and truth. His installations, objects, and drawings have simultaneously negotiated, mended, and preserved the divide between East and West, as well as between traditional and avant-garde art practices, while addressing the (in)validity of rational knowledge and the limits of language. This selection of works from 1983 to 2004 includes Mém­oran­dum: Bat Project I, II, III, 2001–2003, Huang’s three-dimensional archive for a controversial and frequently censored series of installations based on the 2001 collision between an American EP-3 spy plane (the “Bat”) and a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea, as well as works aimed at mediatization, the blessing and curse of technology, and “improvements” in punishment and surveillance. In Huang’s “space of emancipation,” hybrids of diorama, excavation, menagerie, and exploratorium set the stage for creative skepticism, drawing an alternative “map of global civilization.”

Web site: www.museum-ludwig.de

Huang Yong Ping, Mémorandum: Bat Project I, II, III, 2001-20013.
Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main: Kader Attia
Through August 14, 2016
Exploring questions of community, diversity, exile, and the tangled threads of identity in a globalized world, Attia’s installations plunge viewers into confrontational environments of inundating repetition and grating movements. Visitors to Infinities (2006), for instance, found themselves surrounded by giant drill bits, each slowly revolving in an illusion of constant downward pressure; as if this weren’t uncomfortable enough, the mirrors lining the room reflected an endless expanse of mechanized torture. “Sacrifice and Harmony,” which features a group of new works, extends his preoccupation with the idea of “repair,” but that process no longer functions as a tool of healing and reparation. As Attia shifts focus to religiously and politically motived sacrifice, what was once intended to placate the gods and restore harmonic balance descends into a flagrant instrument of fear and control. Whether exploring continued division and hardened conflict in the West Bank, exposing psychopathology and its rhetoric of justification (Reason’s Oxymoron), or reopening the repressed wounds of colonialism, his pluralistic viewpoint turns installation spaces into thinking memorials, places for intuiting the buried or forgotten bonds that link seemingly unconnected political, personal, and aesthetic histories.

Web site: www.mmk-frankfurt.de

Kader Attia, Untitled.
Pérez Art Museum, Miami: Sheela Gowda
Through August 21, 2016
Initially trained as a painter, Gowda turned to sculpture and installation in the 1990s, using unconventional materials to expose the social contradictions and environmental realities that define contemporary Indian life. In her works, everyday objects and the mundane stuff of daily living—including tar barrels, plumbing pipes, doorjambs, thread, newspapers, hair, incense, cow dung, turmeric dye, and votive figurines—are transformed into rigorously beautiful sculptural presences. But a second reading, in which context comes into play, undermines pure formalism to reveal precise statements, which are not always benign. And that is no lie, her new commission, continues this blend of the sensual and the unsettling, combining torn red fabric and rope made of human hair in a ritualistic, politicized environment that draws on the forms of celebration to evoke some of the darkest aspects of human experience, conjuring “the overt and insidious in our psychic makeup.”

Web site www.pamm.org

Sheela Gowda, And that is no lie.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC: Martin Puryear
Through September 5, 2016
Working primarily in wood, Puryear has maintained an unwavering commitment to manual skill and traditional techniques, fusing a mastery of craft methods with the concepts of Minimalism. Derived from everyday objects, both natural and manmade, including tools, vessels, and furniture, his serenely quiet and poetic forms reveal a rich range of cultural influences and references. Recurring themes such as the “Rings” of the ’70s, the “Stereotypes” and “Decoys” of the ’80s, and the recent allegorical works examine issues of identity and history in a distinctly personal idiom, drawing associations with basic human needs and attributes, such as shelter and sanctuary, aspiration and exploration, concealment and mystery. “Multiple Dimensions” features more than 70 sculptures, drawings, and prints that chart the development of Puryear’s career over the last 50 years, from his earliest works (made while he was serving in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone) to the present, including a maquette for Bearing Witness, a major public sculpture in Washington, DC.

Web site: www.americanart.si.edu

Martin Puryear, Vessel.
Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, New York: Landmark
Through August 28, 2016
Once an industrial landfill and illegal dumping ground, Socrates has grown to prominence as an incubator for outdoor sculpture, as well as a social space for community engagement and urban discovery. In honor of its 30th anniversary, “Landmark” celebrates that legacy of social and environmental transformation. Eight new (and ongoing) works by Abigail De­Ville, Brendan Fernandes, Cary Leibowitz, Jessica Segall, Casey Tang, the curatorial collective ARTPORT_making waves, and Hank Willis Thomas, in addition to a major earthwork by Meg Webster, address the idea of place as intimately tied to neighborhood and environment, to maintenance and stewardship, and to evolution over time. Whether engaging directly with the land or commenting on nearby cultural and economic shifts, each intervention reflects change in the making, with an eye on the future—particularly Webster’s Concave Room for Bees, a circular bowl of earth planted with flowers, herbs, and shrubs to attract pollinators. (After the show, the soil will be dispersed across the park, filling an urgent need for nutrient-rich topsoil.) From DeVille’s ship-­ wreck of public neglect, decay, and marginalization to Segall’s salvaged piano harp turned into an observational musical beehive, to Tang’s Urban Forest Lab, which has grown into a self-sustaining entity over the years, these works make the case for a committed awareness that understands place as a matrix of past, present, and future, human and nonhuman.

Web site: www.socratessculpturepark.org

Meg Webster, Concave Room for Bees, from "Landmark".
Tate Modern, London: Mona Hatoum
Through August 21, 2016
Hatoum transforms everyday objects into uncanny sculptures that harbor a nagging sense of uncertainty and conflict. No longer reassuring spaces of protection, her domestic territories subvert familiar forms such as chairs, beds, and kitchen implements while reconfiguring clean, Minimalist forms into ciphers of ambiguity and threat—even the human body becomes strangely unfamiliar and disassociated. Her first U.K. survey features more than 100 sculptures and installations from the 1980s to the present—from the visceral icons of incarceration Impenetrable and Light Sentence to recent work in which embroidery doubles as resistance. Works on paper and performance documentation flesh out this in-depth encounter at the crossroads where the ordinary meets the poetic and the political.

Web site www.tate.org.uk

Mona Hatoum, No Way III.

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