Critics’ Picks

Jean-Luc Moulène, Météo (Weather), 2009, plastic hoses, 14 x 25 1/2 x 10 1/4".


Jean-Luc Moulène

3 Beekman Street
December 1–May 24

Jean-Luc Moulène’s yearlong exhibition “Opus + One” comprises three distinct modules dispersed throughout the vast building. The most beguiling of all is the large gallery of objects titled “Opus,” 1995–. Resting on the floor, hanging from the ceiling, and placed on tables that are so delicate they nearly float in space, thirty-five sculptures––made across the span of sixteen years––fill the cavernous space. The materials, though crude, never quite give themselves away; Lycra resembles liquid glass, water hoses twist and torque into perfect ellipses, and fiberglass takes on the appearance of dehydrated cartilage. No bigger than the human body, or what the human body might be able to cradle, these opuses are propositions rather than determinations, each with its own unique set of terms and conditions. The +1 suffix in the exhibition’s title alludes to this endlessly additive equation, which not only begins at zero, but replicates at the most comprehensible pace possible.

The other galleries take on unique strategies. Two adjoined rooms house Moulène’s photographic series “La Vigie” (Lookout Man), 2004–11, in which two stacked rows (totaling nearly three hundred images) snake around the walls. They picture the same rogue weed––sprouted from a Parisian sidewalk in front of the country’s Ministry for the Economy, Industry, and Employment––as it blooms and retreats in a hostile environment over many years. In the back gallery, a large, opalescent aluminum sculpture, titled Body, 2011, stands alone. Built to order by Renault, the piece takes a smaller opus made by Moulène and enlarges it to the power of several hundred. While its leguminous figure and hyper-glossed surface are sexy, the overall slickness of the form is counterproductive to Moulène’s project: His art is most successful when the work teeters at the brink of potential and failure, as structural models that will never quite be realized.