Critics’ Picks

View of “carbon index compost copy,” 2011. From left: Inverted Lightbox 3, 2011; Inverted Lightbox 2, 2011.

View of “carbon index compost copy,” 2011. From left: Inverted Lightbox 3, 2011; Inverted Lightbox 2, 2011.

Berlin

Gabriel Kuri

Esther Schipper
Potsdamer Strasse 81E
April 29–June 1, 2011

In his sculptures and installations, Gabriel Kuri attends to the significance of material goods within society, and he does so while displaying remarkable sensitivity to material forms, if not always an aesthetically indulgent touch. In his latest exhibition, “carbon index compost copy,” which inaugurated Esther Schipper’s new gallery space when it opened over Berlin Gallery Weekend, Kuri presents his familiar thematic territory cast in an attractive aesthetic light.

The works on view emphasize the complicity of two-dimensional forms in the creation of commodities and the attribution of value. Paper towel dispensers, which appear in lines along two walls, mimic the production of two-dimensional matter but actually only proffer it in a form intended for speedy use and disposal. Conversely, the various denominations of Euro banknotes pinched between marble slabs in arrangements found throughout the space serve as a foil: paper that, for its symbolic value, is coveted and preserved.

In a separate room, a copy machine stands encased in a patchwork of roofing felt. Given the machine’s current state, all its functionality has been stalled, highlighting the object’s incessant physicality. On a wall across the room hangs a display of paper towel segments, miscellaneous pieces of colored paper, and soap remnants and notes held in clear plastic sheet protectors––all adhered with tape to a translucent screen. A bright light emanates from behind these two-dimensional materials, in fact shining through them. The incredible pictorial beauty of this composition and its glorious, airy lightness bring viewers to revel, possibly in a moment of relief, as Kuri invites us to pause and peer out through rose-tinted glasses over the shimmering, material landscape. Or perhaps the work, Inverted Lightbox 3, 2011, exhibits that beauty of penetrating insight, which is sometimes revealed by an investigation, such as this one, aimed at a daunting reality, such as our own.