Critics’ Picks

Pooneh Maghazehe
, Just for the Taste of It, 2018, MDF, beach towel, PlastiDip, trash bag, angle iron, hot glue, 
5 x 3 x 7".

New York

Pooneh Maghazehe

Brennan & Griffin
122 Norfolk Street
January 5–February 3

Following her exhibition last fall at New York’s 17ESSEX, which touched upon mythological appearances of twins, Pooneh Maghazehe’s “2for1” here finds its roots in a more pedestrian story. In the press release, the artist writes about spotting a pair of identical twin girls in Miami—prepubescent and blonde, sharing equal sips of a Diet Coke. Maghazehe, likening the calorie-free soda to a “phantom umbilical cord,” tethers the twins’ emerging sense of “look at us!” to the consumerist logic of “buy one, get one free.”

Her subtly allegorical sculptures bring together paired and bizarrely branded objects. Diet Coke beach towels are one of her key materials; combined with other media including plaster and concrete, they form a variety of abject surfaces for grotesque forms. In Spitting Image (all works cited, 2018), mismatched halves of a desiccated-looking mass—one of which sits on a squat, suspended plank—are braced between the ceiling and the floor with a jack. A bungee-like cord in the piece lends the composition an oddly fetal quality. For a few of the sculptures, Maghazehe cuts parts of the Diet Coke logo into metal panels, transforming its curvilinear swoop into a decorative, elegant flourish. The gracefulness of this gesture is echoed in Miami Shell Station with a makeshift marquee where LED light streams through a capital letter D in cursive.

The intimately scaled works are most likely to worm their way into your nightmares. Just for the Taste of It features a partial cast of teeth and a piggish nose on a swatch of Diet Coke beach towel. For 0 SPF—named after a grade of sunscreen as unhealthy as a “zero-calorie” soft drink—she embeds RedGard, a pink waterproofing solution, in a steel drum lock to re-create the texture of horrifically cracked and sunburnt skin.