Critics’ Picks

Nicki Green, Splitting/Unifying (toilet tanks, slip spigots and medical sink laver with faucets), 2019, Glazed vitreous china, epoxy, and found slip spigots, 54 x 40 x 36".

Nicki Green, Splitting/Unifying (toilet tanks, slip spigots and medical sink laver with faucets), 2019, Glazed vitreous china, epoxy, and found slip spigots, 54 x 40 x 36".

San Francisco

Nicki Green

Et al. etc.
2831 Mission Street
September 13–October 26, 2019

Nicki Green’s tender sculptures intervene in her industrial source material, queering the assisted readymade. Green created the works shown here during a recent residency at the John Michael Kohler Art Center—Kohler as in the specialists in plumbing products and bathroom fixtures. Her altered ceramic vessels, made out of found sinks, tubs, and smaller porcelain objects, remain anchored in their humble industrial beginnings while subtly but rigorously theorizing gender and its relation to the question of bathing and care in the era of the bathroom bill. The centerpiece and titular work of the show, Splitting/Unifying (toilet tanks, slip spigots and medical sink laver with faucets) (all works 2019), combines its title’s parenthetical elements into a sculpture that evokes one of those painful old sinks with scalding hot and freezing cold taps that never meet and blend. Another shrine-like piece, A Discrete History of Intimacy and Violence (double urinal basin with faucets), fuses together two discarded urinals with lush, glutinous ribbons of epoxy to create a baptismal tub of sorts. Duchamp, eat your heart out.

Green’s clever approach to interrogating binaries is complicated and deepened by the decorative elements she integrates into every sculpture on view: ontologically cryptic fungi shaded to mimic the phases of the moon, mysterious multiheaded figures, and dozens of decorative miniature vials that held sprigs of lavender during the opening. The tension between the sheer heft of the objects in the show and their porcelain fragility suggests the violence built into the ideological structures that police our restrooms, while their painted surfaces offer coded, playful alternatives to the forms and paradigms that guide our bodies.