Critics’ Picks

Rachel Koolen, Self-Portrait in Drag, 2012, dance pole, plaster, straw, digital photo frame, dimensions variable.

Rachel Koolen, Self-Portrait in Drag, 2012, dance pole, plaster, straw, digital photo frame, dimensions variable.

London

“The Weight of Living”

MOTINTERNATIONAL | London
15 Babmaes Street
June 8–July 7, 2012

This exhibition of recent British and European sculpture is alive with summer malaise. Grouping together artworks that are materially chaotic, the show is marked by a unifying lack of formalism, rejecting carefully contrived facades and smooth modernist surfaces in favor of the heavier (and sweatier) bodily experience of living in the everyday.

For example, Rachel Koolen’s Self-Portrait in Drag, 2012, is a strange homage to the brainless Scarecrow from the Land of Oz, knotting together a series of slabs coated with straw along a chrome stripper pole; it also includes a digital photo frame positioned nearby on the floor. Andy Boot’s Untitled (black) and Untitled (light blue), both 2012, immerse colorful rhythmic gymnasts’ ribbons in hot wax, an act that drains the delightful twirling bands of all locomotive energies. Morag Keil’s Gawker Paintings, 2012, commemorate the social media gaze in oil paints, creating a literal portrait as set piece. Settled haphazardly amid the other works in gallery, Simon Bedwell’s pair of asymmetrical ceramic pots, Ashtrays, 2009, operate metonymically in place of the death-defiant smoker. And Natalie Czech uses red marker pen to underline the free-form lines of A Hidden Poem by Frank O’Hara, 2012, unearthed within the text of a magazine article on the ever-specific Donald Judd.

If digital space romanticizes notions of bodily transcendence, the works in this show weigh down or disrupt the flow of data and the resolved form with the cumbersome shapes and functions of conventional objects (cellophane, ceramic, canvas, woven carpet), which reposition the viewer in concrete relation to Euclidean space.