Critics’ Picks

“The Paper Sculpture Show.” Installation view.

“The Paper Sculpture Show.” Installation view.

New York

“The Paper Sculpture Show”

44-19 Purves Street
September 7–December 7, 2003

When “The Paper Sculpture Show” asks you to make art, it gives you plenty of rules to follow. But don’t worry, there’s no Sol LeWitt waiting around to whack the sloppy and disobedient with a T-square. Instructions and diagrams for dozens of projects are printed on heavy paper and stacked on long tables; you take what you like, then settle down with scissors, glue, etc., at plywood workstations cleverly designed by Allan Wexler to mimic Tab-A-into-Slot-B construction. The contributions of twenty-nine artists represent all manner of contemporary impulses, from the pure geometry of Seong Chun’s intricate octahedron to Minerva Cuevas’s DIY fake ID. Janine Antoni, meanwhile, parodies rule following (her own?) with a Gordian snarl of indicated foldings called Crumple. The curators tell you what to do because they know you won’t do it and are ready to celebrate the resultant disorder—Aric Obrosey’s paper work glove outfitted with faux blades à la Freddie Kruger, Rachel Harrison’s spitball straws jabbed into the eyes of the Art Guys’ hideously reproduced mugs. A few artists insert legible signs of personal sentiment: Akiko Sakaizumi’s fighter jet (“a tumor”) to be sliced from a page representing the artist’s belly; David Brody’s camera obscura that quixotically asks a black paper cube to transmit a memory. But the rarity of such gestures suggests that even amid the post-Conceptual rule fuddling, one unwritten prescription—the dictum that real artists must eschew emotive messiness—holds sway. Maybe LeWitt patrols the classroom after all.