New York

Barbara Zucker

It is difficult to know what to do with Barbara Zucker’s show at A.I.R. Common to the four pieces in her show was what could be called a flat blob of latex, which in one case wasn’t latex at all, but plaster. Two of the works related to painting, if for no other reason than by being on the wall. One of them consisted of small latex blobs dispersed on a large sheet of white paper tacked to the wall; the dispersal was allover, and tufts of kapok were stuck on or stuck out of most of the latex blobs. The other work was similar but without the mediation of paper between the latex and the wall. This work took place high up on the wall and extended onto the ceiling occupying equal parts of wall and ceiling; and in this piece there was no kapok and some of the latex blobs were colored red. A third piece consisted of white plaster pancakelike blobs which occupied a seven-foot square (approximate) of floor in one corner of the gallery; these plaster blobs were not dispersed but were packed together within the square configuration and more than one layer deep so that nothing of the gallery floor was visible. In the fourth piece, different colored flat latex blobs were stacked in piles on a small white table accompanied by two white chairs, and a few red blobs formed a trail on the floor by the table and up the base of the wall.

Generally, Zucker’s show seemed to carry Surrealist, or perhaps simply funk overtones (if only I could get a grip on exactly what is meant by funk). But beyond dwelling on these kinds of notions, it is possible to think of her work in terms of usage, that is, to think of the blob as a term getting used in different ways, and therefore carrying different meanings. The fact that Zucker’s works are so unlike one another makes this reading plausible, in fact the only way the various works seem to relate, beyond being physical entities in the same room put there by the same person, is as different usages of the same term. And in this way, by considering the latex blobs on the white table as but a different use of the latex blobs on the paper, wall, and ceiling, and the plaster ones on the floor, sense can be made of Zucker’s show, which otherwise seems chaotic and disparate. And within this reading, it is interesting to notice how different are the inferences from the latex blobs in the work on the ceiling and from the latex blobs beginning to trail up the wall by the table and chairs.

––Bruce Boice