Critics’ Picks

Toby Ziegler, “The Alienation of Objects,” 2009, aluminum, cargo container, 54 x 77 x 78".

Toby Ziegler, “The Alienation of Objects,” 2009, aluminum, cargo container, 54 x 77 x 78".

Helsinki

Toby Ziegler

Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art
Mannerheiminaukio 2
September 28, 2012–January 13, 2013

Toby Ziegler’s working process is central to his art; this is evidenced in the handmade appearance of the two sculptures on view here. He begins by selecting reproductions from books and the Internet, favoring such items as ancient Greek sculptures and Victorian porcelain dogs. He also prefers objects with unusual stories, as exemplified by the documentary video accompanying the show, which traces the history of an African sculpture that may once have belonged to Picasso.

After finding a suitable image, Ziegler feeds it into a computer program, which turns it into a simplified 3-D model. The originals are barely recognizable in these new images, with their surfaces formed out of hundreds of planar triangles of varying shapes. Ziegler uses these images as blueprints to construct large sculptures out of triangular pieces of thin, acid-washed aluminum, and mounts them on individual or stacked air cargo containers, whose battered surfaces still bear markings and stickers that evoke thoughts of long distances and faraway cities.

Ziegler’s works derive much meaning from the inevitable errors and inaccuracies occurring in the digitization process, as well as from all the visual information lost along the way. The final works not only lack the detail and mass of the originals, but they also have holes in places that the computer did not “see,” along with visible tracks of the artist’s rivet gun. All this makes them truly alienated objects, their shapes no more than ghosts of the originals, their stories lost in translation.