Critics’ Picks

B. Wurtz, Umbrella Handle, 1996, wooden dowel, rope, plastic bag, nail, 74 x 36”.

B. Wurtz, Umbrella Handle, 1996, wooden dowel, rope, plastic bag, nail, 74 x 36”.


B. Wurtz

The Apartment
2142 Carolina Street, Suite 404
May 16–August 15, 2010

The idea of shelter or cover has been a long-standing motif in B. Wurtz’s work, and so it seems only appropriate that his latest show has been installed in a gallery-cum–residential apartment. While the exhibition space––the bedroom––is modest in size, this modesty only augments Wurtz’s six pieces on view. Indeed, given the domestic nature of much of Wurtz’s practice, the part-home, part-gallery context here makes his art all the more resonant.

Wurtz has an ambiguous relationship to traditional media. When asked by curator Lee Plested to classify his works, the artist said that he prefers not to categorize them; and the question of just what a Wurtz piece is already points to part of the work’s fascination. Wurtz uses plastic bags, socks, buttons, wire, shoestrings, clothes hangers, pieces of wood and canvas—in short, everyday objects. Dirty Laundry, 2009, for example, is a photograph of a pile of laundry printed on translucent fabric, so that the piece emphasizes the quotidian while also blurring the line between image and object. Untitled, 2009, comprising a few pieces of painted canvas studded with buttons, is reminiscent of Rauschenberg’s “Combines.” Each piece arrived at the gallery packaged in plastic, with handwritten instructions for assembly on the back of the work. In some instances, viewers can see glimpses of the instructions: a hidden textual detail in Wurtz’s assemblages.