Critics’ Picks

View of “Jennifer Cohen and Vlatka Horvat,” 2008.

View of “Jennifer Cohen and Vlatka Horvat,” 2008.

New York

Jennifer Cohen and Vlatka Horvat

Rachel Uffner Gallery
170 Suffolk Street
November 7–December 21, 2008

Broken, concealed, and reconfigured bodies take on many forms in the work of Jennifer Cohen and Vlatka Horvat. Cohen’s elegant, geometric constructions of cement, wood, and clay are flecked with metallic details of glitter and bronze, juxtaposed with the occasional battered jazz shoe. The implied movement of a dancer’s body is complicated by the works’ roughened and otherworldly presence, with disembodied feet and pointing fingers that punctuate empty space, interrupting an otherwise flawlessly minimal formalism. Anthropomorphic forms prevail; a distorted foot replicates the curve of a swan’s neck, impossibly curled into itself, and individual legs are positioned as if caught, mid-action, inching across the floor. Horvat’s “Hybrid,” 2006–2008, is a series of collages that fuses images of the artist’s own body with traffic signs, small appliances, and other domestic items, clearly recalling the cut-and-paste automatons of Hannah Höch. These figures float against blank backgrounds that leave their surroundings unspecified; they signal an interchangeability between the female form and the objects that warrant our daily interaction and utter disregard. Horvat’s photographs of herself hidden entirely in various boxes and bags skip this in-between state altogether and concentrate strictly on concealment, never betraying who or what fits perfectly inside; instead of creating a hybrid, she becomes one with her container. In both Cohen’s and Horvat’s work, identities may be withheld but anonymity is never conferred; these faceless, nameless bodies are able to exist entirely on their own, removed from temporal and spatial context, making their presence decisively felt.