Critics’ Picks

Installation view, “Angharad Williams: Without the Scales,” 2020.

Installation view, “Angharad Williams: Without the Scales,” 2020.


Angharad Williams

Schiefe Zähne
Schliemannstrasse 37
June 1–June 26, 2020

If certain sizes in Angharad Williams’s exhibition “Without the Scales“ appear ambiguous—a plywood table too big for a child yet too small for an adult (Untitled, 2020) and a “naive” pastel-on-paper drawing (You don’t know anything and that’s good and nice, 2010–20)—it is to address the conundrum of temporal and psychological scales. Measures of time and self are recurring motifs in Williams’s titular installation (Without the Scales, 2020), which becomes a Janus-faced affair as the tight gallery space is symbolically turned into a clockwork, with multiple temporalities overlapping to hallucinatory effect. Williams’s long shadow, materialized in rubber, is cast across the carpeted floor and recalls a human sundial; from the doorway, the viewer might take her self-portrait for their own doppelgänger. This play with multiple presences continues in the four convex mirrors, which miniaturize and distort the viewer’s surroundings, recalling the fifteenth-century “sorcerer’s eye” convex mirrors, through which a higher power was believed to look out.

Stylistically untethered, many of Williams’s works have a performative or manipulative quality that pervades through a multitude of media and bridges her practice as a performer. With the shadow and another reiterating motif—the scattered flowers of Nobody wins, 2020, a quintessential vanitas metaphor—she alludes to the natural or primal sphere that escapes the normative logics of hierarchy and liberal progress. The gray-scale oil painting Daisy, 2020, depicts the little girl picking petals in Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 antinuclear political advertisement—widely seen as having secured his bid for president against Barry Goldwater. If with the original “Daisy” ad Johnson made a zero-sum ultimatum (love or death) only to escalate tensions in Vietnam once in office, Williams seems to caution for the necessity of a discerning reading of art and ethics beyond the categorical.