Critics’ Picks

Daniel Turner, Particle Processed (IPN) Beam, 2018, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Daniel Turner, Particle Processed (IPN) Beam, 2018, mixed media, dimensions variable.


Daniel Turner

Le Confort Moderne
185 de la rue du Faubourg du Pont Neuf
April 6–July 1, 2018

Working with salvaged materials, Daniel Turner has transformed psychiatric-hospital sinks, restaurant-kitchen appliances, and other old machinery and fixtures into sleek geometric cast-metal sculptures. Belying their minimalist aesthetic, Turner’s soulful reincarnations are rife with historical, political, and personal connotations. The suite of works presented here was made using I-beams removed from the exhibition venue during a recent renovation project. Turner’s sculptures are accompanied by a selection of archival materials that trace the evolution of the site, which was originally built as a textile factory in 1910.

The identical floor-based sculptures, both titled CM (IPN) Bar (all works cited, 2018), were cast from twenty-two melted-down steel beams. Despite a collective weight of five hundred pounds, the long and thin buffed rectangles appear somehow light and luminous, recalling Light and Space sculptures such as DeWain Valentine’s polished resin columns. In stark contrast to these densely compressed monuments, Particle Processed (IPN) Beam, is a ground-up girder, diffused across a large open space. After milling the steel into a fine powder, Turner mixed the metallic dust with a chemical solution and sprayed it onto the concrete floor and plaster walls of the exhibition space. The resulting rusty coating imbues the freshly renovated, white-walled gallery with a grim sense of nostalgia. Backing this up, facsimiles of documents that the artist found through a local historian reveal some unflattering moments in Le Confort Moderne’s past—including the manufacture of artillery components during a period leading up to World War II, and the eventual conviction of the foundry’s owner as a Vichy collaborationist. Whether in the form of a penetrating stain or an impenetrable monolith, Turner’s works contend that the past never fades entirely; history inevitably invades and informs the present.