“Nina in Position”

Artists Space Exhibitions
38 Greene Street, 3rd Floor
January 23, 2008–March 29, 2008

View of “Nina in Position.” From left: Daniel Joseph Martinez, Untitled, 2007; Michelle Lopez, Crux, 2007; Mary Kelly, Flashing Nipple Remix #1–3, 2005; Wade Guyton, U. Sculpture (v. 7), 2007; and Amanda Ross-Ho, Mantle, 2007. Photo: Bill Orcutt.

Although curator Jeffrey Uslip makes many theoretical claims for “Nina in Position,” the exhibition primarily presents various strategies for representing biological materials and processes. Marcos Rios crafts a slab of beef out of stainless steel, while Kelly Barrie transforms an image of his hand, saliva, and flour into an austere photographic composition. In Red on White, 1993, Anya Gallaccio uses animal blood, glass, and salt to create an abstract floor piece with a visceral punch. Many of the works are activated by juxtaposition, such as Wade Guyton’s abstract, curved mirrored sculpture, which sits alongside Mary Kelly’s light boxes, reflecting both her performance-based photographs and the viewer’s body. Josh Tonsfeldt mechanizes a dried bone to create a functional wall knocker whose intermittent bangs are at once whimsical and creepy. His piece formally echoes Crux, 2007, Michelle Lopez’s sculptural amalgam of prosthetics and natural objects, which is placed nearby. Lopez haphazardly fuses prosthetics, wood, and photo equipment into a haunting, seemingly animatronic presence. The dark, poetic message about death that Daniel Joseph Martinez has written on a large slab of Vac-U-Form paneling belies the material’s lightness and transparency. Across from Martinez’s piece, Haim Steinbach uses an oversize elephant skull on permanent loan from the US Fish and Wildlife Service in one of his signature shelf sculptures. By presenting the skull, Steinbach recontextualizes biological waste; like the best work in the show, it infuses the monumental with a sense of melancholy.

Lori Cole