Critics’ Picks

Sam Anderson, Newspaper, 2013, ink on paper, newspaper, string on wood, 26 1/4 x 2 1/4 x 2 1/4".

New York

Sam Anderson

Chapter NY
127 Henry Street
October 27 - December 22

Sam Anderson’s sculptures are displayed in multitude, relating to one another as much as they invite viewers into their unresolved connective logic. This effect is particularly strong at “Flowers and Money,” Anderson’s current exhibition, where her aggressively diminutive sculptures are spread over the very limited floor space of Chapter NY, a new gallery situated in a tiny storefront on Henry Street (formerly Bureau). In both scale and arrangement, each resembles figurines in a board game—some, like two pairs of red and black horseshoes, smaller than a child’s fingernail.

Among the thirty-nine sculptures on view here are posturing animal skeletons, degenerated musical instruments, a stack of newspapers, and a mock public sculpture, all which come together to form mise-en-scènes. The artist renders her fabulist vision with surgical-strike deployments of craft, always opting for an touch of expressive gesture over tedious realism—she creates a harp out of dried orange peels and draws a vaguely anthropomorphic figure out of cherry stems. Her renderings don’t hide their constituting materials, but incorporate them stylishly, like designer garments hanging loosely over lithe, unexpressive bodies.

Anderson’s creations have been spread amid a grid of towering wooden cylinders, punctuating the space between the sculptures. The rods evoke the vertiginous edifices of an urban metropolis, pleasantly contrasting with the installation’s otherwise folklorish themes. Further, they organize space in such a way as to limit free ocular movement around each scene’s elements, offering instead a number of discrete but considered “views.” Looking down one column of rods, for example, you might see the posterior of a bird skeleton, withdrawing along a path of strewn flowers. Walk to another edge of the installation and take in the view from the perpendicular row, and suddenly the same bird seems oddly stilled, foregrounding a second animal skeleton in the form of a frog scaling a suggestively lupine rock. This loose coupling of elements invites projection, and this may be key for the artist, who seems to prefer empowering her audience to construct their own narratives rather then simply relating her own.