Critics’ Picks

View of Flavie Audi: TERRA (IN)FIRMA," 2020–21.

View of Flavie Audi: TERRA (IN)FIRMA," 2020–21.

Milan

Flavie Audi

Nilufar Depot
Via della Spiga 32
September 1, 2020–February 28, 2021

3-D-printed and hand-finished, Flavie Audi’s sculptures, tables, and reliefs are arranged within the enormous rectangular space of the Italian art and design gallery Nilufar Depot with the musical precision of Malevich’s Suprematist compositions. This seemingly arbitrary art-historical association is reinforced when viewing the show from the side galleries fifteen meters above, its cosmic geometry ostensibly governed by laws both material and metaphysical. The crevices and acclivities of Audi’s glass, resin, and bronze forms appear as distant as MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1 yet as familiar as your mobile device, with its parts made of lithium, copper, and other metals extracted from increasingly depleted mines, often located in this planet’s most ecologically and politically troubled regions.

While the exhibition is informed by the topoi of the Anthropocene and the ruinous methods of mineral extraction, its ecocritical concerns are easy to miss in works that are visually seductive to the point of rapture. In fact, this constant oscillation between different modes of spectatorship is manifest throughout the show: from Audi’s two-dimensional panels, which, placed onto plinths, become sculptural installations one can circumambulate; to her series of “Prescient Lagoon” tables, 2020, whose hypnotically gleaming surfaces might well contain the abyss of the Challenger Deep hidden within; to the infinitely dimensional magnetism of Hyperterrestrial 1, 2018, a large meteorite-like sculpture landed right in the center of the gallery space. When gathered together for display, these pieces seemed to emanate a mystical energy, something the artist herself felt when entering the exhibition for the first time.

Sacred minerals extracted from (extra)terrestrial depths and carrying their arcane charge with monolithic silence, Audi’s works meld geological properties with digital aesthetics. Hybrids from outer space, they landed just in time for Musk–disrupted galaxies, for technology’s coextension with the human body, for neo-spiritual post-internet kids coming of age, carrying Apple’s latest lithic, pocket-bible phones ever closer to hearts.