This installation of “A. R. Hopwood: False Memory Archive” at two sites—the Carroll/Fletcher Project Space and the Freud Museum—is the most recent event in artist Alasdair Hopwood’s ongoing exploration of the malleability of memory. Hopwood has been particularly interested in the research of psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, who since the 1970s has conducted experiments showing that with narrative prompting, subjects will testify to memories of events that never occurred.
In the hands of A. R. Hopwood—Alasdair Hopwood’s alter ego, a dry mischief-maker who operates via faxed contracts—the unreliability of memory creates an absurd universe in which a hired clairvoyant writes a subject’s past, fictions might be facts, and at a satellite of the exhibition at the Freud Museum, the father of psychoanalysis plays an apt host to the mischief. The works in the show result from Hopwood’s collaborations with various people, including psychologists. In Hot Air, 2013, Hopwood displays the photographic prompts created by psychologist Kimberley Wade of Warwick University for an experiment. The photographs themselves are typical of the visual material in the exhibition in their accidental absurdity: Tiny, imperfectly cut out people, often out of scale, clearly taken from family portraits and miscellaneous snapshots, have been shoddily glued into identical postcard-sized pictures of a hot-air-balloon basket floating into the air. The silliness turns sinister when one realizes that even these crummy, doctored pictures successfully implanted false memories of something as extraordinary as a balloon ride in the experimental subjects who viewed them. As if to repair the damage done to faith in photographic evidence, Hopwood sent Wade on a real balloon ride, strapping around her neck a camera designed for amnesiacs that takes a picture every thirty seconds.
In Wade’s case, the psychologist comes out from behind the one-way mirror of the laboratory, and as Hopwood recedes behind his contract-faxing alter ego, the line between a psychologist’s props and an artist’s productions appears as thin as the one between recall and imagination.
Curator Catherine Wood takes Yvonne Rainer’s 1966 observation that “Dance is hard to see” as a point of departure in this exhibition, making the polymath’s groundbreaking choreography from 1961 to 1972 visible in a variety of media. Four times daily, dancers who were trained for this occasion by Rainer and her longtime collaborator Pat Catterson file into the heart of the gallery and perform a forty-five-minute program consisting of four of Rainer’s key pieces from the 1960s. These include Trio A, 1966, the most oft-cited piece to emerge from Rainer’s early experiments with neutral, nonexpressive, and ordinary movement.
If dance is hard to seefleeting and multidimensional even in the immediateit is harder to archive. Yet when displayed in combination with live performance, materials such as those shown hereearly choreography scores, film and photography of performances, an audio recording from one of Rainer’s performative lectures—enhance one’s ability to see dance, rather than having to supplant it. For example, Rainer’s earliest scores and choreographic instructions, displayed in the first rooms, prepare visitors to perceive a precision in the dancers’ ticks and twists. Jagged trajectories drawn in crayon map the overlapping spatial interactions of three dancers (Three Satie Spoons, 1960–62) while a typed list enumerates commands such as “15. Stop left foot - draw right leg turned in across left as arms jazzy 2nd...” (from Holst Solos, 1963). In the performances that punctuate this show, the minimalism of these instructions is complicated by the freshly visible bodily effort to carry them out.
Twelve works by the late Mario Schifano are on view in this tight survey produced between 1960 and 1967—a key period in which his practice matured. The exhibition has been divided into two groups and the earliest pieces depict rectilinear O shapes, painted with enamel on paper attached to canvas in a matter-of-fact way. Schifano was fond of the flickering, changing nature of new media, and these forms hint at television screens. The second group ushers in imagery in the form of stars, palm trees, clouds, car accidents, and handwritten texts; while these show the artist’s continued use of enamel, industrial materials such as Perspex have also been introduced. The experimental qualities of the Libyan-born Italian’s intuitive approach signals a gradual opening out to the world. For example, Tutte stelle + particolare dell’oasi (All stars + detail of the oasis), 1967, consists of two abutted panels with two palm trees under a starry sky stencilled on with spray paint. The work is completed with a transparent Perspex cover that suggests a window or door.
The paintings created after 1963 possess a romantic and playful quality, as if trying to find the poetry in modern life through new materials. Though Schifano was included in the now-historic 1962 New Realist show at Sidney Janis that introduced European and American Pop art, his paintings, though celebratory, are not quite like the cool detachment of Warhol’s or Lichtenstein’s, nor are they a politicized realism of some works by Europeans such as Polke or Richter. A big personality with a checkered life, Schifano was an artist who experimented with many mediums, however, based on this exhibition, it would seem that his paintings are his lasting legacy.
Combining modernism’s obsession with ritual and a bitingly humorous, but nevertheless intensely critical, cast of art-historical characters, Travis Jeppesen’s “16 Sculptures” exhibits a freshness that is largely absent in hyper-conceptual contemporary installation shows.
Each of the sixteen works on display consists of a chair, a vinyl record, headphones to listen to an mp3 recording, and blackout glasses, which together turn the gallery into a Blues Brothers convention. Artists as diverse as James Turrell, Isa Genzken, and Auguste Rodin have had their works transformed by Jeppesen into incantatory poems that, as the result of a sophisticated mixing process, reverberate and crackle like a priest giving a sermon through an unholy amplifier.
A special treat is Venus of Willendorf / Artist Unknown, 2014, a decidedly different take on Jeff Koons’s iteration of the famous statuette as a container for Dom Pérignon champagne. Jeppesen, speaking to us as the Venus of Willendorf herself, melancholically states, “Grazing on contradictions, I am skin without organs, worth more than diamonds, and yet nothing—female without sheen. The first phallus and the last to bleed. Touch without tactility.” Venus embodied by Jeppesen thinks of herself as “a fat bitch for the world to abuse with its eyes,” thereby addressing head-on the politics of neoprimitivism and misogyny by which the unfortunate Venus, and countless other representations of women, have been confined. Jeppesen leaves us wondering who speaks for artworks and, perhaps more important, how they speak.
The eight-plate engraved series of William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, published in 1735 and currently on view at the Foundling Museum, tells the story of Tom Rakewell, a merchant’s son who arrives in London to remake himself as an aristocrat but whose vanity and profligacy land him in debtor’s prison and the madhouse.
“Progress” brings together responses to Hogarth’s series produced between 1961 and 2014 by four artists, three of whomDavid Hockney, Grayson Perry, and Yinka Shonibareenjoy near-Hogarthian status in Britain. (The museum also commissioned a set of drawings for the occasion by emerging artist Jessie Brennan.) While this may seem dully straightforward as curatorial structure, it proves wise given the multiwork, narrative complexity of the responses, particularly Perry’s six-tapestry series The Vanity of Small Differences, 2012.
With Perry’s tapestries in such close proximity to the Hogarth work, it is an absorbing game to follow Perry’s symbolic substitutionsthe French press for the gambler’s wine, L. S. Lowry for Titian, and the self-satisfaction of modern yuppies for the posturing of old-world aristocracy. In the eighteenth century Hogarth cannily exploited the Foundling Hospital, then a home for abandoned babies, as an exhibition site outside the typical channels of royal patronage. Perry, too, commits to expanding a public for art: His tapestries’ imagery resulted directly from “All in the Best Possible Taste,” the artist’s Channel 4 television exploration of consumption and identity in British households.
In contrast, Hockney’s A Rake’s Progress, 1961–63, transposes Hogarth’s morality tale into an abstruse private journal, in feverish etching and aquatint, of the artist’s arrival in America. As in the case of “Diary of a Victorian Dandy,” Shonibare’s 1998 series of photographs in which he casts himself as the rake surrounded by cheats and sycophants, Hockney identifies no less with Hogarth as master of ceremonies than with the vulnerable and vain arriviste.
The works in “On the Passage of a Few People Through a Rather Brief Period of Time,” American artist Mary Kelly’s first London solo exhibition in more than a decade, consider how an era is shaped by political events and their media representations. Circa 1968, 2004, for instance, is a cast of compressed lint depicting photojournalist Jean-Pierre Rey’s iconic image for Life magazine of a girl waving a flag during the May 1968 general strike when Paris was brought to a halt by civil unrest. Kelly’s version, enlarged and rendered in her signature material, is installed directly opposite her latest work, Tahrir, 2014. This work is based on a photograph taken by photojournalist Peter Macdiarmid of protesters in gas masks during the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising in Cairo. The Web address bar at the top of the work reading “www.tahrir.com” is a conspicuous reminder of the important role the Internet’s technological advancements played in the creation of citizen journalism.
A series of lint works, “7 Days,” all 2014, take on the left-leaning magazine of the same name that Kelly cofounded in 1971 with feminists and activists, marking the development of an independent-press movement that went beyond mainstream media in challenging the status quo. Their composition in a quotidian household material places these images in a domestic context—a subtle nod to the connection between public demands for change and rebellion within the private sphere of the home. Their fragility and Kelly’s focus on activist movements also reflect how ephemeral movements can become, mirroring the invisibility of domestic labor.
Diego Perrone’s latest exhibition engages the viewer in a conversation on the relationship between morphology and history. In the first room of this gallery/apartment, Perrone has chosen to “cool” the space, covering the floor with black linoleum onto which he has drawn a large red dragon. This legendary animal is here an iconic element, or rather an extraordinary motif, which is linked to two nearby sculptures in cast glass, each approximately thirty inches tall. Inspired by Alexander McQueen’s “Armadillo” shoes, these latter works feel like a kick to the face, and on close examination reveal an ear and an eye like fragments of a visage. The artist here also plays with chance, since he does not control the various chemical substances held in these works, which change color, particularly under the strong gallery lights. The sculptures also seem to have no texture: At times, they appear to turn into a transparent frame that allows one to see through them.
Along with his interest in alchemical processes, Perrone also plays with the opposition between the coagulation of materials and the instability of forms. On the gallery’s second floor he tackles ancient bas-relief technique. Here he shows five pieces, each created using various materials (plaster, sheet iron, PVC). Molded chairs emerge from the material, like bodies from the bowels of the earth. Four drawings in red ballpoint pen on paper complete the project; their subjects revive the motif of the glass sculptures in the first room, like the cast of an idea that has produced an autonomous image.
Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.
This exhibition in a small, single-room gallery displays twenty-two works by nine artists. It should feel claustrophobic, but the curation by Alex Ross is acutely balanced and simple without being too austere or overly Minimalist. Comprising a variety of mediums—digital prints on fabric, embroidered canvas hung on metal rods, painted papier-mâché, and printed sleeves inside PlayStation game cases from a series of works addressing recent, highly publicized school shootings—the works on view would give the impression of being thematically related, given its organization under a title taken from the 1988 black comedy Heathers, yet it is the acute focus on materiality that each piece has in common.
Daniele Milvio’s glazed clay works, including colorful bowls and ashtrays, are hung on walls and have toothy, wicked grins cut into their bottoms as if delighting in rejecting a more functional use. Two canvasses by May Hands, both made of polythene and netting stretched over aluminum, have fragrance test strips affixed to the backs. Titled Endless Euphoria (Calvin Klein), and Guilty, (Gucci), both 2014, these have a sensual appeal that engages our sense of smell, widening the typical boundaries of interaction with artworks. The pieces in this exhibition demonstrate a compelling, contemporary engagement with craftsmanship, luxuriating in their technical, tactile qualities. The overall impression is a bit like that of a teenager’s bedroom, filled with handmade objects serving as signs of embellished individuality slightly detached from the outside world, cumulatively creating a deep sense of intimacy in a public space.
With a wink to both Man Ray’s La Fortune, 1938, and Sherrie Levine’s subsequent ’90s homage, the seventy-six ordinary-looking objects arranged neatly on a snooker table in this exhibition resemble a very odd junk sale. However, “On the Devolution of Culture” is inspired by nineteenth-century British army officer Lieutenant General Augustus Henry Pitt-Rivers’s collection archived in the Pitt-Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford. A charming institution of archaeology and ethnography, the museum’s objects are catalogued and exhibited by type rather than by history or chronology. Mirroring that organizing principle, this show displays a Roman perfume bottle next to curious, blown-glass versions by Francis Upritchard, Perfume Bottles #1 and Perfume Bottles #2, both 2005, while two cast-bronze Sherrie Levine animal skulls, Bobcat Skull and Javelina Skull, both 2010, are laid near an actual Anglo-Saxon human one a little farther along the table.
As a whole, the display could be considered a large still life gathered to present a microcosm of the diversity in contemporary sculptural practice. The objects range from Keith Coventry’s plastic cast of an inhaler repurposed as a crack pipe, Inhaler, 1998, or David Adamo’s painted bronze candies, Untitled (M&Ms), 2010, to conceptual pieces such as Pavel Buchler’s Cannon, 2014, composed of a real snooker ball sitting on a postcard of a war-damaged building. The piece wittily conflates a billiards shot with the firing of artillery—a nod to the juxtapositions inherent to collage. As much as the assortment here is an homage to the curatorial task of organizing objects in terms of their form or content, this exhibition is also a sly reminder of the acquisitive needs of humanity—how else could museum collections come about?
Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq’s latest exhibition is a cold, dark cosmos of almost entirely monochrome new sculptures and works on paper. From afar, the graphite drawing BLACK HOLE IV, 2013–2014, appears to be a solid, gray orb, but up close it’s revealed to be constructed of intricate, closely hatched lines beaming from the center of the paper. Within the circle, both light shading and forceful scoring create a perfect eight-pointed star. The only glimmer of color in the exhibition appears in BEADS, 2010–2014, wherein three black, brown, and clear resin spheres composed of hexagons are connected circuitously by a rope. Light from the gallery’s ceiling lamps refracts as it hits the clear globe, firing out a rainbow. Another work, FALLING STARS II, 2014, comprises three sculptures—one of which leans against a wall—assembled from lacquered, black steel spears that, like the artist’s drawings, appear to explode outward from a fixed core with fiercely sharp points. Flanking the back of the gallery is a three-meter-high shaft of solid aluminum, ROD, 2010–2014, the length of which tapers to a point and hangs slightly off-center, as if it were a bolt of lightning flung from the sky to lodge itself in the floor.
With frenzied lines morphing into composed circles and vibrant rays radiating from a colorless source, Ashfaq brings together a mass of contradictions. Installed along the perimeters of the gallery like static planets, a viewer finds they are caught in the center of the works’ orbit.
A pitch-black clock, The Ecliptic, 2014, holds pride of place in Raqs Media Collective’s current exhibition, “Corrections to the First Draft of History.” Replacing numbers, one half of the clock bears the word TIME, while on the other half, the words FREE, FOLD, FIGURE, FUN, FIX, and FREEZE alternatingly light up. The alliteration provides rhythm and a sense of repetition but also brings to mind the F-word: future. Subjected to a relationship with the noun TIME, the verbs are rendered inactive, becoming adjectives, as if the future will watch the futility of our grasping for a voice or light, elided and eclipsed.
On the opposite wall is Corrections to the First Draft of History (Redraft 1), 2014, a series of nineteen framed newspaper pages, some of which have been erased with chalkboard paint and overwritten with epigrams in chalk. These debate the distortions of history, the primacy of the journalist’s pen, and the fiction of finance (as seen by a drawing of a donkey on the stock-market pages). They are indeterminate, creating a rift in both time and meaning, so much so that it is the pristine composition of the frames in space and less the content of the markings that leaves the viewer taut between the past and future. It is the form that we must extract from the formidable.
Though the show verges on being too spare, it is in this lacuna, in the silence before (or after) language (or emotion), in which one could arguably occupy a viewer for a few minutes and a few months alike.
A group of mannequins face the gallery’s entrance in Korakrit Arunanondchai’s debut UK exhibition and collaboration with his twin brother, Korapat, “2557 (Painting with history in a room filled with men with funny names 2).” The models are dressed in a combination of denim and sportswear, including Manchester United FC uniforms, as well as traditional Thai morhoms, and a sweatsuit the artist produced with Disown. The whole scene is covered in paint. In fact, the entire exhibition has been doused in various hues—from the canvasses on the walls to the cushions on the floor—and in the center of this display is a massage chair, which has been upholstered in bleached denim, while miniature arms protrude from the seat.
Also in the mix is a video that shares the title of the show. Here, we see the artist and his brother visiting Thailand’s ornate Wat Rong Khun on a pilgrimage. The brothers examine the building’s surreal sculptural elements: armed demons and hands that swell from the earth in a vision of hell. The temple’s white-and-gold color scheme provides the palette for the exhibition’s canvasses, and the mannequins on view are based on different characters in the film played by the artist and his brother.
This video quietly, almost imperceptibly anchors the exhibition—balancing the visually disruptive elements here. Moreover, it extends the installation into the totemic as it indicates an unconscious spiritual kinship between people, which is both enhanced and poisoned by contemporary culture. The serene imagery of the temple and the luxury objects in the installation are treated with an even-handed objectivity. The installation becomes a hypocenter of cross-cultural miscellany. It ultimately represents the debris of lifestyles distributed over the Web traveling without context.
For his debut exhibition at this gallery, Andro Wekua has blocked the street-facing windows of the gallery with a wall of cinder blocks. Inside, bubble-gum-pink carpeting casts a soft glow onto the surroundings while Untitled, 2014, a lifelike, androgynous mannequin wearing a blond wig, a black, oversized tank top, and silver sneakers hangs in the middle of the room. Wekua often uses such figures in his work—this one is sustained in midair by a glass ledge placed under its chin, which in turn is suspended from the ceiling. The dummy’s left arm is a cyborg-like steel-covered prosthesis, while its right hand’s fingers slowly thrum on the corresponding thigh. Wires run into its back from a black box on the floor, which controls the figure’s movement, as if it were docked at its charging station. Though the installation emphasizes this work’s limited, robotic abilities, the overall effect is disturbing due to the uncanny appearance of the mannequin—it’s like watching someone asleep twitch.
In an adjacent room on a white plinth, another miniature version of the cybernetic androgyne, also Untitled, 2014, sits on the back of a black wolf. This figurine is cute, like a merchandised version of the robot next door, and looks determined and fearless as if on a quest. Four paintings, all untitled and from 2013–14, line the gallery’s walls and show abstract figurations in a palette of mostly blue and pink hues. These images give the feeling of glimpsing, or perhaps invading, the first cyborg’s inner world. The sickeningly pink room may be a cell where it dreams of riding that wolf through a steppe into the painted scenes surrounding it.
“Reality changes,” Bertolt Brecht once said, and “in order to represent it, modes of representation must also change.” K. P. Brehmer’s exhibition thinks through two opposed terms in the history of art: realism and abstraction. Brehmer deploys the tools of bureaucracy—maps, graphs, indexes—in order to survey the effects of capitalism on everyday life. In the enlarged chart, Seele und Gefühl eines Arbeiters (Soul and Feelings of a Worker), 1975, an undulating grid registers the day-to-day emotions and drudgery associated with work. Predictably, in Brehmer’s Cold War world, feeling “neutral” or “neutral plus” prevails over “happy” or “hopeful.”
Realkapital—Produktion (Real Capital—Production), 1974, displays three painted graphs charting the fickle state of corporate profits. The swirl of sinuous lines, painted on self-adhesive film on top of melamine, is viscous and aggressive—specifics are lost in transcription. Similar to the undated Schuldentilgung der öeffentlichen Hand (Bailout of the Public Sector), Brehmer’s graph appears irrational and crisis prone. The graphs are not crafted to display information per se, but a general attitude towards the economy. Understanding falters, and so it should. In a détourned topographical map, Farbengeographie 7, Lokalisierung von Rotwerten (Color Geography 7: Location of Shades of Red), 1972–73, Vietnam is visualized as as blood stains. The challenge of this work, however, is that an altered topology does not operate in the same way as a cognitive map, whose form is less symbolic and schematic. When abstraction merges with realism, instead of allegory, the results are demanding rather than diagrammatic.
“A Volatile Medium,” the title of this exhibition, is also how Keith Vaughan referred to gouache, the material and technique he employed increasingly in the last fifteen years of his life, following his 1962 retrospective at Whitechapel Gallery. He would often mix his gouaches with other materials, such as vinegar, to further increase the process’s volatility, finding a new sort of freedom in chaos and uncontrollability. As journal excerpts included in the exhibition reveal, Vaughan was something of an automatist, producing inspired studies of the male figure faster than his dealer could sell them.
In Warrior, 1960, a male figure is depicted with his back to the viewer. The background landscape is smudged with swaths of color, as is the figure himself, his body nearly becoming one with its surroundings. Often, Vaughan depicted myriad figures in a single image, the delirious thick black lines that form their bodies intersecting and merging, one on top of another, as in an untitled gouache on paper work from 1975.
That there is a certain degree of gloominess haunting these late works is fitting and understandable, given the circumstances under which they were created. Vaughan wrestled throughout most of his life with depression related to his homosexuality and difficulties in sustaining long-term relationships, although these struggles never depleted the prolific outpour of his work. Indeed, his melancholy may well have helped feed his work’s increasingly expressionistic and dreamlike qualities. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1975 and committed suicide two years later, documenting the process of dying by writing in his journal as the pills kicked in. Yet the joyful and desirous frenzy of the line emerging in drawings such as Man Feeding Birds, 1975, implies that art was also, for Vaughan, a zone of happiness, and perhaps the sole domain where the potentialities of hope could flourish.
Jim Lambie’s current retrospective opens with a deceptively simple installation. Shaved Ice, 2012–14, is a crop of brightly painted ladders, all extending from floor to ceiling; a mirrored panel fills each space between the rungs, distorting the reflected room and the visitors in it. It’s a trippy transformation that offers the perfect segue to the hypnotic floor-bound installation Zobop, 1999, which starts at the lower landing of Fruitmarket’s main staircase and proceeds to blanket the entire top floor. Composed of concentrically laid strips of Technicolor vinyl tape that follow the outlines of the gallery’s floor plan, Zobop looks like a Lynda Benglis latex pour crossed with a Bridget Riley canvas, and the work’s effect—even though it has been reprised numerous times since its 1999 debut in Lambie’s first solo show—somehow manages to remain fresh.
Zobop is enjoyable enough on its own, but at Fruitmarket, it also plays up the psychedelic tendencies of Lambie’s sculptures, many of which similarly transform quotidian objects into minor fascinations, ranging from a tinfoil mask lined with men’s underwear (The Kid with the Replaceable Head, 1996) to a piece created out of record-album covers taped together into a serpentine accordion (Stakka, 2000) that writhes over the surface of Zobop. The exhibition is rife with allusions to music and, by extension, to Lambie’s involvement with Glasgow’s music scene, which offers a context for understanding his duct-tape-covered shirts and glitter-bombed turntables. But biography is gravy here. At its best, Lambie’s work is mere play, pure color, unabashed love of junkyard-bound material; it embodies a formally restrained exuberance that feels almost incidentally enriched by a wry (and no doubt intentional) relationship to histories of abstraction and the readymade.
Before immigrating to Venezuela in 1939 and turning to sculpture, Gego—who was born Gertrude Goldschmidt in 1912 and passed in 1994—was trained as an architect in Hamburg. However, sculpture may not be the best term to describe her work in this touring retrospective, as it seems closer to three-dimensional drawing. Like Fred Sandback defining planes with string, Gego articulates volume through line with airy, crystalline wire constructions. Her objects reflect both the structure and the sense of spatial articulation that one finds in architectural drawing and in the practice itself.
Hanging like traps or nests in the main gallery are a constellation of these spidery orbs. Also on display are works on paper dating between 1961 and 1990. Several suggest a folded grid or matrix in flux, such as Tejedura 89/13 (Weaving 89/13), 1989, an ink drawing of a linear weave with collaged squares. Like the cellular quality of her sculptures, the drawings delineate space and evoke an underlying grid—another sign of mapping space. That said, despite the rectilinear nature of both grid and cells, the resulting forms emphasize a more organic intuitive process. The complete phrase from which the exhibition’s title is taken reads “Line as object to play with,” and these constructions certainly remind us that a spirit of play is key to artmaking.
With her characteristic font splashed across Modern Art Oxford, Barbara Kruger asks “IS THAT ALL THERE IS?” in her latest exhibition, which consists of a new installation, two video projects, and highlights of her early photocollages. This quandary is as pertinent to the level of critical discourse surrounding her career as it is to the fiber of that individual work. Despite her complicated output, Kruger’s practice often becomes buried under truisms of the Pictures generation—the male gaze, consumer culture, and appropriation. This exhibition of Kruger’s work adroitly proves that her output exceeds such truisms by allowing for an intimate and complex venue for viewing the breadth of her practice.
That Kruger has cited architecture as a major influence should not be disregarded when viewing these works. A variety of green and black words pointing to classes of people—intellectuals, survivors, artists, lovers—covers the gallery’s blistering brick walls from floor to ceiling. This massive spatial overload is followed by a presentation of Kruger’s photocollages. From time to time, pasted words might be slightly mismatched, some even coming over the paper’s edge, creating embodied spaces rather than purely linguistic ones. Similarly, Kruger’s videos Twelve, 2004, and Plenty LA, 2008, comment on the absurdities of human interconnectivity by capitalizing on the gallery space as a medium. Kruger projects Plenty LA onto the corner of a wall, for example, so that the video appears to ebb and flow in space. As this exhibition makes clear, to look outside simplified postmodern frameworks is to approach innovative and unexpected analytical spaces.
After his passing in 2012, this first major UK retrospective of Franz West’s more interactive works has added poignancy, given that it was originally intended to be a collaboration with the artist. The exhibition focuses on his combination pieces, recombined with his friends’ works and grouped salon style, as well as the famous “Passstücke” series, or “Adaptives,” which he began in the mid 1970s. The “Adaptives” are white, biomorphic plaster forms built around metal rods that serve as handles. Four are on display in Adaptives with Box and Video, 1996. Enjoyable objects to touch and wear, these were the result of West wanting to add an extension to the human body. However, as he found the public shy to play with them, West turned to creating furniture, where interaction was more inviting.
West’s idea of sculpture was less like a conceptual game and more akin to exuberant play, in contrast to relational aesthetics as theorized by Nicolas Bourriaud. In a large gallery filled with Ordinary Language, 1995, his signature metal-rod divans covered with vibrant, patterned fabrics, several video monitors screen interviews from The Ordered Oval, 1992–93, a three-hour film West made with Johannes Schlebrügge and Bernhard Riff with individual time slots given over to figures such as Slavoj Žižek. In this environment, visitors find themselves falling easily into thought or conversation—just the effect that West had hoped for.