Critics’ Picks

Ben Clement, Spermatorrhoea (Baby Leg #3), 2017, cast high-density polyethylene and steel mount, 12 x 8 1/2”.

Venice

“In the Reading Room of Hell”

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Calle Malipiero San Marco 3073
February 24 - May 12

“In the Reading Room of Hell,” an exhibition curated by publishing platform NOVEL and loosely inspired by Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño’s 2004 dystopian novel 2666, takes language beyond a mere communicative function to construct a surreal and beautifully confused plot. The project orchestrates twelve different artistic processes, to form a narrative short-circuit that ultimately exceeds the gallery’s two floors, with three large posters installed throughout the lagoon city.

The show opens with Elaine Cameron-Weir’s aerial work wave form walks the earth, 2017, framed by the large, windowed entrance; the piece acts as a counterweight to support, from the ceiling, a concatenation of leather cables and two impressions on aluminum. In an adjacent corner, two large oil paintings on canvas by Simon Thompson, About you and your partner and About children continued (both 2017), reproduce paper questionnaires and provide the ideal theater set for Calico, 2017, Claire Potter’s verbal performance. A heterogeneous play of glances entirely takes up the next room; Marble, 2017, a head in polychrome glass by Jean-Marie Appriou, plots out an ideal visual relationship with three other portraits: Eileen Agar’s Hellenic face in ink on paper (untitled, undated); Julien Nguyen’s silverpoint of a pale face stripped of its flesh (Our Only Weapon Is Your Entire Life, 2015); Agnes Moraux’s bared teeth in marker on paper (S.B., 2017).

Spermatorrhoea (Baby Leg #3), 2017, a fragmented polyethylene doll by Ben Clement, leads to the second floor, where graphic and pictorial works by Alastair Mackinven, Patrick Procktor, and Henrik Olesen are laid out in a vitrine between a long horizontal window and the walls that delimit it. The show concludes with Modern, 2014, a video by Brazilian artist Luiz Roque, in which a mysterious black-latex figure dances around the sinuous forms of a Henry Moore sculpture.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.