Critics’ Picks

View of “Sauvetage Sauvage,” 2020.

View of “Sauvetage Sauvage,” 2020.


Diego Bianchi

Galerie Jocelyn Wolff | Romainville
43 rue de la Commune de Paris
May 13–July 31, 2020

Diego Bianchi’s shows look like burnt plastic smells. For “Soft Realism” at Jocelyn Wolff’s Belleville gallery last year, that plastic was latex—black, thick, and gooey, coating various appendixes as inexorably as birds get oiled. Now, at “Sauvetage Sauvage,” the artist draped everything at Wolff’s Romainville location—walls, floors, staff desks—in sheets of transparent plastic. Pristine and crinkly, this material is less evocative of discount sex megastores than of a sanitary limbo: our “new normal” blown up to cathedral-like proportions inside the gallery’s three stories.

A response to the pandemic, the show’s installation was made possible through video-conferenced guiding. Bianchi got the idea to wrap the space after watching an online tutorial in which a woman made a plastic curtain in order to safely hug her own mother. The eleven pieces, spaced as to be socially distanced, are disturbing, but to merely discredit them as “ugly” would be too easy. “Ugly” is a cultured feeling, as is its libidinized counterpart, known in artspeak as the “abject.” Where the latter plays on bodily taboos, presupposing a humanist, unified subject, the Argentinian artist’s sculptural installations address a commodified environment where subjectivity does not preexist the process of its machinic production. Runner, 2017—alongside the several freestanding limbs titled Standing Leg, 2015, Pink Sock, 2017, and Pubis, 2017—evokes a recent tradition of cyborgian sculptures in which the human or its organs emerge from a mesh of technical apparatuses (see Stewart Uoo, Renaud Jerez, Johannes Paul Raether, and Anna Uddenberg). Here, however, the human is not augmented but absent, a calcinated core and lost Modulor of mass-produced items: tennis shoes, jeans, a pink sock, all too new to have ever been used.