Critics’ Picks

View of “The Pale Fox,” 2014.

View of “The Pale Fox,” 2014.


Camille Henrot

Chisenhale Gallery
64 Chisenhale Road
February 28–April 13, 2014

What makes up a world? Last year, Camille Henrot posed this question in her film Grosse Fatigue, 2013, the winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale. For her latest exhibition, “The Pale Fox,” Henrot shifts focus to the medium of sculpture.

Spurious origins and ecological devastation are offered up here as a sculptural narrative. Along the gallery’s garish blue walls, the slick aluminum shelves of The Pale Fox, 2014, wrap, climb, and twist around the room, depicting discordant scenes and jittery objects. In one corner, Henrot stages a wreckage of images and icons, shark posters and National Geographic magazines, sunburnt bodies and astral clippings. Amorphous bronze orbs and figural ceramic cows signal the primordial. On the carpet, a devious robotic snake is controlled by a gallery attendant. JPEG picture frames scroll through eBay auctions and the holdings of the Victoria and Albert Museum—commodities in alliance with fetishized museum objects. In a sense, Henrot’s shelves can be thought of as providing the same function as a tracking shot in cinema, separating but diegetically uniting what is shown through separation.

To clarify a point, Henrot’s “Pale Fox” is not a representation of our world per se, but a world unto itself. In Guy Debord’s last film, In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (1978), he claimed that children of today’s spectacle despise their origins; they are not the offspring of their parents but of the image world of capital. In a world wrought by capital at every turn, the distinction between the image as commodity and commodity as image has softened. And, like our own world, Henrot’s world is sick. She perfects spectacle’s cultural logic. One drawing, Renard Reniflant (Sniffing Fox), 2014, shows the eponymous Pale Fox with a runny nose. Allegory is operative here. Warbling drone music is intermittently interrupted with a coughing voice, disclosing a world of ever-present sickness and destructive expenditure.