Critics’ Picks

View of “David Adamo,”  2012.

View of “David Adamo,” 2012.


David Adamo

Ibid Gallery | London
27 Margaret Street
November 17, 2012–January 12, 2013

In 2007, David Adamo spent a day in the Metropolitan Museum of Art standing in front of John Singer Sargent’s 1883–84 portrait Madame X (Madame Gautreau), for a performance suitably titled Museum Museum: XX. In a further exploration of historic icons, the artist later whittled a series of baseball bats to their centers and leaned them along a gallery wall for Untitled (The Rite of Spring), 2008, inspired by the baseball bats used in the infamous 1913 riot during the Paris premiere of Stravinsky and Nijinsky’s ballet. For the current exhibition at Ibid Projects, though, instead of using past cultural artifacts and events as subjects, Adamo has treated them as scores.

For instance, the materials and measuring system devised by Carl Andre for the “Element Series,” 1960, are appropriated here for cutting a group of seven substantial cedar plinths, Untitled (all works 2012), each of which Adamo doubled in length in order to match his own height. Six of the seven lie flat on the gallery floor, while one is left standing. Each has had one or more rough, crescent-shaped notches chopped bluntly into its bulk. Similar references to Minimalism surround these sculptures. A series of five graphite renderings of Daniel Defoe’s eighteenth-century novel Robinson Crusoe are hung on the walls (Untitled, chapters 1-5). The book’s first five chapters are here rewritten by Adamo in miniscule scale, in a procedure that resembles current conceptual writing practices such as retranscribing original texts, while the drawings approach concrete poetry, as the sentences on each page take the form of winding strings that weave in and out of one another.

Some objects in this sprawling show—such as Untitled, two denuded metal heels and toes from tap shoes nailed to the gallery’s gray floor, in a nod to Adamo’s past work with performance and dance—bear connections to the artist’s previous output. Yet it is his rematerializations of scripts from other authors that stand out here, signaling a shift in Adamo’s practice from merely encountering canonical cultural moments to reinterpreting them.