Haim Steinbach

Lia Rumma | Naples
Via Vannella Gaetani 12
May 25, 2017–July 31, 2017

Haim Steinbach, Untitled (locomotive), 2017, Baltic birch plywood, plastic laminate and glass box, metal, plastic engine, 30 x 40 x 11".

Haim Steinbach’s complex exhibition “Lemon Yellow” radically transforms the spaces of this gallery. Using metal studs, the artist modifies the visitor’s path through the show. The entrance is destabilizing due to a structure that cuts the gallery hall in half, from which a reflective Plexiglas work hangs: lo specchio/the mirror (all works cited, 2017). After negotiating this initial disorientation, visitors can then progress through various spaces along a path articulated by metal structures on which monochrome paint-on-plasterboard works are anchored. The titles of these pieces refer to famous films: Blue Velvet, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Red Desert, among others. Since the 1970s, Steinbach has been experimenting with unexpected openings of meaning, resulting in the collision of different semantic universes and references to cinema, painting, and architecture.

Steinbach’s work, since the beginning of his career, has been characterized by a montage-based approach. For this show, he has initiated a collaboration with certain Italian collectors. Each was asked to select a representative object. The artist then created five wall-mounted display cases to hold and exhibit the individual mementos: a notary’s seal, a locomotive, Capri Battery, 1985, by Joseph Beuys, and a Mickey Mouse figurine. If each display case becomes a veritable portrait of a collector, then the box, preserving its original function, reveals Steinbach’s enduring interest in the aesthetic and functional object. As Jean Baudrillard has stated, the object is a critical question for contemporaneity: at once a vector of representations as well as cultural and social functions, and an envoy of diverse political and emotional meanings.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.

— Maria Giovanna Mancini