Critics’ Picks

Sigune Siévi, Collier (Necklace), 2011, wood, lacquer, neon, glass, cable, dimensions variable.

Sigune Siévi, Collier (Necklace), 2011, wood, lacquer, neon, glass, cable, dimensions variable.


Sigune Siévi

Van Horn
Ackerstrasse 99
March 8–April 19, 2014

The eight neon sculptures in Sigune Siévi’s debut gallery exhibition are smooth on one hand and unwieldy on the other. They are robust and fragile. These works can hardly be classified with respect to any one era: They are a perfect blend of Art Deco elegance, Pop audacity, Minimalist exactitude, and they also exemplify contemporary art’s weakness for discarded materials. They radiate a muted light, a dim atmosphere—reminiscent of the moment in which daylight gives way to artificial light in a room. And it is precisely this moment of transition that interests Siévi, who produces these objects in what is often a very time-consuming process: She sands pieces of wood that she then varnishes with multiple coats and polishes until the surfaces are slick as ice. Next, she combines the wood with neon, as in Collier (Necklace), 2011: Here, on the top of a pinkish-white, round table rise two columns that support a ribbon of luminous glass. It may sound banal, and it is banal, but it is precisely this banality—coupled with a precise workmanship and an outward seriousness that nonetheless produces humor—that turns such objects into small, stubborn entities. No wonder they play the leading roles in the films she shoots with them, which are not on view. Another object from 2012, Sex Sea, consists of a rounded metal sheet covered with filthy scraps of foam. Above the foam rise red, white, and blue snakes of shiny neon that bring to mind the head of the Medusa. Born in 1966, Siévi completed her studies at the Düsseldorf Academy years ago. Her objects are convincing through their willfulness. One will look forward to her next exhibition with anticipation.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.