Critics’ Picks

Around, About Expanded Field (Sculpture Silhouette Props), 2007, MDF, paint, steel, and video, dimensions variable.

Around, About Expanded Field (Sculpture Silhouette Props), 2007, MDF, paint, steel, and video, dimensions variable.

London

Peter Coffin

Herald St
2 Herald Street
January 20–March 4, 2007

Peter Coffin, whose earlier work investigated the naive sincerity behind bad science and the paranormal, who established his own “micro-nation,” and who has been known to play music to plants, presents here something slightly less outcast. But it’s no less ambitious and, typically, somewhat playful. On entering the gallery, dimly lit by the large video screen at one end, a haunted prop house of modern sculpture’s greatest hits emerges from the gloom: Brancusi, Giacometti, Rodin, Miró (Around, About Expanded Field [Sculpture Silhouette Props], 2007). There must be two dozen outsize figures from the canon, all rendered in black-painted MDF. Ahead of them, on-screen, vertigo-inducing aerial footage weaves from mountain to desert, from lake to rain forest, heroically freeing the silhouetted shapes from their backstage graveyard. In the rear gallery, a subtle, decorative wall drawing forms a neutral backdrop to Untitled (Unfinished Hand), 2006—a Home Depot–style Schwitters cathedral constructed of wood and chicken wire—and a silent, mesmerizing video, Untitled (One Minute Breach), 2007, which is an unusual, slowly rotating shot of a whale breaching the surface of the sea. The hypnotic sound track to Around, About . . . seeps into the room and seems somewhat more fitting among these works—slightly muffled, removed, alien.