Critics’ Picks

Rudolf Polanszky, Semiology of Senses, 1976, Super 8 transferred to video, 15 minutes 27 seconds.

Rudolf Polanszky, Semiology of Senses, 1976, Super 8 transferred to video, 15 minutes 27 seconds.

London

Rudolf Polanszky

Bruce Haines Mayfair
33 Saint George Street
September 1–October 2, 2010

There is a light, buoyant quality to the Viennese artist Rudolf Polanszky’s sculptures. They both hold space and seemingly levitate. Since the 1980s, Polanszky has incorporated discarded industrial materials such as Plexiglas and aluminium into hybrid, consolidated forms through cutting, suturing, gluing, and taping. The works, which might be described as an amalgamation of Arte Povera approaches blended with Viennese Actionism, appear here as distressed combines elevated or suspended by elongated metal “plinths.” Their integration of fragmented material abjection would be nearly retrogressive within the context of art history were it not for a presentation of five films that provide a critical context for the delicate, handmade objects, which themselves espouse an attitude of pure insouciance.

In Semiology of Senses, 1976, Polanszky sets himself the task of drinking to oblivion. Like a mad scientist in the laboratory, he experiments with the effects of a particularly virulent form of Viennese delight: a local brew imbibed over two hours, edited to a mere fifteen minutes. To create “a physical dissolve,” Polanszky codifies actions, assigning colors to repetitive motions marked directly onto the 8-mm film. While he is smoking, a yellow circle appears over his face; red is for drinking, orange for vomiting, blue for leaning one way and then the other. A sort of language is created from the artist’s body under the influence. Whereas the sculptures are carefully pieced together to produce a poetic sensation, the films provide simple strategies of degrading absurdity.