Critics’ Picks

View of “Ester Fleckner: All Models Are Wrong, Some Are Useful,” 2017.

View of “Ester Fleckner: All Models Are Wrong, Some Are Useful,” 2017.


Ester Fleckner

Barbara Wien
Schöneberger Ufer 65 3rd Floor
July 8–August 26, 2017

Like a frustrated poet’s crumpled up sheets of paper, Ester Fleckner’s sculptures litter the floor of the gallery. But where the poet chases perfection, this artist does the opposite: Her concrete polyhedrons twist and turn into bumps of irregular pyramids, as if in defiance of precision.

Part of a series titled “All Models Are Wrong, Some Are Useful,” 2017, each sculpture was cast from paper models based on the shapes presented in woodcuts on paper, which are installed along the walls. Drawings were transferred to the wood, and their lines are not straight, but bent, even queer. The idiosyncratic outlines look like pieces of land or strange animals, resulting in forms that emphasize the multifaceted nature of identity, as well as its profound instability. With instructions to “cut and fold,” a note written in pencil on the sixth print in the series names the relation between the mediums, but looking at them, there has already been more than a little slippage; through one more transformation, their kinship could become completely abstract.

The series stems “from the desire to crip arrivals,” according to another scribble in the margin of the same woodcut above, further betraying the pseudo-scientific surface of the presentation. Using a term normally used within disability studies, much like queer, to subvert abusive language, here the artist “cripples” geometric shapes to deconstruct what makes a durable or whole object. To return to the analogy of the poet, what are the standards by which we keep or crumple? This is a question of power and normativity, which Fleckner handles with both humor and formal sophistication.