Critics’ Picks

Vera Kox, footprints to fingertips (detail), 2019, insulation panels, foam, ceramic, cast aluminum noodles, plaster, pigments, silica gel, copper pipe, hair extension, 50 x 54 x 34".

Vera Kox, footprints to fingertips (detail), 2019,
insulation panels, foam, ceramic, cast aluminum noodles, plaster, pigments, silica gel, copper pipe, hair extension, 50 x 54 x 34".

Paris

Vera Kox

22,48m2
30, rue des Envierges
November 21–December 21, 2019

For an exhibition that wields the materials of construction and mass production (plaster, silica gel, polyurethane foam) to more whimsical ends, it’s fitting that Vera Kox’s “footprints to fingertips” unfolds in a gallery called 22,48m2, a measurement both architectural and absurd.

A bubble of happy accident envelopes each of these installations, all made within the past two years and most titled after the show itself. Upon entering, visitors find what could be a botched Slip ’N Slide: A blue insulation mat unravels, like a cartoon waterfall or a seamless photo-shoot backdrop, at the viewer’s feet. Plaster pools atop it, the color of melted confetti-cake ice cream and complete with silica-gel sprinkles. Other motifs: piled Styrofoam, copper pipes sprouting streams of synthetic hair extensions, and objects that resemble a mix between a crumpled baby blanket and a topography model made from a sponge rag. In this last motif’s most striking iteration, a dusty-rose ceramic exudes plushness as a bruisy pale blue at its crests produces a near iridescence. In her most recent works, Kox puckishly confounds our tendency to expect the texture we see to cohere with the texture we feel.

Such sensorial aporia emphasizes a marked absence of the body here: “footprints to fingertips,” the indices always in retreat. These are the limits of the human—temporary impressions left on the ground, inches of skin located at one’s farthest extremity (fingertip, the very mechanism of deixis). These bodily lacunae, however, are not empty. Kox is largely inspired by Constantin Brancusi, who considered his sculptures “mobile groups” that, through spatial proximity, formed entirely new relations and communities of their own. Likewise, Kox works the space between works—all 22,48m2 of it—so that it hums with exchange, a numinous dimension of the art itself.