Lara Favaretto

Nottingham Contemporary
Weekday Cross
May 20, 2017–August 28, 2017

Lara Favaretto, Thinking Head, 2017, mixed media, dimensions variable.

“Absolutely Nothing,” Lara Favaretto’s current (and largest to date) UK exhibition, brings together significant pieces from the last two decades along with new works. The title, however, is misleading, as Favaretto has turned the museum space into a thinking machine. Thinking Head, 2017, a public commission by the gallery, is a sculpture composed of a hidden device emitting water vapor that slowly rises from the roof of the building, inspired by Alighiero Boetti’s last sculpture, My Brain is Smoking, 1993. The intensity of Favaretto’s steam will differ according to the levels of contemplation happening within. The project includes a second part that is yet to be revealed.

The deliberately perplexing nature of the show exemplifies Favaretto’s relationship with fragments, obliteration, and disappearance. The sound piece Doing, 1998, in which the artist recorded amateur stonecutters chipping away at marble, plays from behind an artificial wall. Concealment is also key to 7724-7716, 2016, a triptych of found paintings completely wrapped up by a single wool thread. Its color matches the noisily pirouetting pair of car-wash brushes in TABOO, 2017. Di Blasi R7, 2012, takes its name from a moped that was driven around the exhibition as a private performance during the show’s installation. The dents, scratches, and tire marks covering the walls remain as traces of the freewheeling act. Bulk, 2002, is a collection of plaster casts of carnival masks from a procession Favaretto led. The objects are arranged elegantly, as if for a grand hall of ancient ruins. Relic, 2015—nine concrete sculptures, cast from four hundred tons of collected scrap metal that Favaretto exhibited at Documenta 13—disorients the senses, and pushes the familiar into a strange new light.

Philomena Epps