Critics’ Picks

Alice Channer, Elon Musk, (detail), 2018, mirror polished stainless steel, accordion pleated hi-tech lamé; Echioceras Ammonite
fossil, 20 x 9 1/2 x 1".

London

“In the Labyrinth”

Large Glass
392 Caledonian Road
February 8–April 5, 2019

A “red thread” is an East Asian myth about romantic destiny, a fungal disease of turf grasses, a computer-science algorithm, and a Dutch advocacy group for sex workers. It is also the tool used by Theseus to navigate the labyrinth of Cretan King Minos and slay the Minotaur within, a gift from Ariadne before he left her to die on an island far from home. A red thread can be many things, lead in all directions, come undone—a running theme to be followed.

In this group exhibition, the red thread is Charlotte Higgins’s book Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths (2018). The weave is studiously loose, and the seven artists whose work is included have approached the theme with variety. While some focus on figural abstraction (Mark Wallinger and Alison Turnbull) or the specific use of textiles (Tonico Lemos Auad and Helen Mirra), a spare arrangement of three works in the first room hints at the more sinister aspects of the leitmotif. The question, for instance: How do we get out of here?

Carey Young’s photograph of staggered white columns could be an Op artwork; pale vertical lengths, flecked with scratches of color, recede enigmatically in 2-D. But the work is titled Prosecutor’s Office, 2019: The columns are opaque slats that shield the workings of the law from prying eyes. The blindness of justice is echoed in Dorothy Cross’s nearby Hemispheres, 2019, a set of weighing scales suspended from a coat hanger with steel wire. The two pans, made of human skull bone, are gold leaf–gilded and hold small meteorites. Alice Channer’s Elon Musk, 2018, emerges from the wall like stainless-steel-bracket fungi. Inside its irregularly shaped disc, a length of accordion-pleated, high-tech lamé coils tightly around an ammonite fossil. An analogy for the condensed structures of new technology, or a glimpse inside the unruly gray matter of the eccentric billionaire’s mind? Look closely—the edges of the synthetic fabric, close to the mollusk, are frayed.