Critics’ Picks

Camilla Steinum, Determined Nap, 2017, wool and metal, 50 x 72 x 79".

Camilla Steinum, Determined Nap, 2017, wool and metal, 50 x 72 x 79".


Camilla Steinum

Soy Capitán
Prinzessinnenstraße 29
February 11–April 8, 2017

Art and its benefactors have long been backed by the labor of working-class people—from those who produce canvases and pigments to those who schlep crates packed with million-dollar paintings. In her exhibition “In Spite of Chores,” Camilla Steinum focuses on such unseen domestic toil. Her show is a dream space made from painting and sculpture in which these laboring bodies merge like phantasms into the works themselves.

Over three metal structures approximating jagged table frames the artist has draped paintings made from household carpets. Within each, bodies and stars are described through drawing, collage, and staining. Given their presentation, though, the carpets offer only partial views of each painting’s figure. In Determined Nap (all works 2017), a peach-colored leg rises past its avocado-green counterpart against a mottled blue background. As reds, lavenders, and yellows abut and bleed into one another, the effect is of tie-dye colluding with figurative painting and industrial textile production. While her materials are immanently sensuous, Steinum reminds us that the show is a fictive space, reliant on the stories and mythologies of art, by way of a small abstracted book made of folded metal attached to a single table leg in Discontent Slumber.

Three bronze-cast carpet beaters (all titled Beater) brandish enigmatic fetish power, flickering between the blunt reality of household drudgery and the easy sensuality of flowers. In so carefully calibrating her lexicon of textures, motifs, and colors, the artist has constructed an uncanny theater of objects. Here, a rethinking of lofty pleasure’s relationship to humble labor seems to move through our own implicated bodies.