Critics’ Picks


Amalia Pica

The Power Plant
231 Queens Quay West
September 29–December 31, 2017

Amalia Pica plays with the basic coordinates of sculpture here, presenting monumental objects with opulent volume but no mass, and small prostrate forms that are weighty but seem visually buoyant due to their surface treatment. In the first of these categories is Ears, 2017, cardboard reconstructions of derelict satellite dishes and other antiquated acoustic instruments that the artist found in the British county of Kent. The original mechanisms were built in the early twentieth century to detect sonic harbingers of incoming aircrafts, but they were quickly rendered obsolete by newer technological advances. Pica’s versions are large enough to dominate the space of the gallery, though their lightweight material gives them a fragile, provisional quality that evokes the accelerated obsolescence that befell their progenitors. One Ear in particular resembles a ruined and abandoned Greek amphitheater, while another is large enough to be a throne for a classical god.

The other four works on display, all part of Pica’s series “In Praise of Listening,” 2016, take hearing aids as their model, though the artist inflates their size to that of a small engine. Carved out of soapstone, granite, and marble, the forms evince a hollow flimsiness due to their polished, plastic-like exterior, even as their matter lends them great density. Blown-up to this preposterous size and connected by transparent plastic tubing, these strange objects lose all similarity to their minute forebears. They sprawl across the floor like discarded apparatuses in some posthuman landscape, their purpose forgotten.