New York

Richard Mock

Some super-Realist galleries have been showing Concept artists and documentors in their back rooms and basements much as a department store moves slow-selling low profit items to the bargain basement. Richard Mock fills the basement at Meisel with large constructions of plastic sheets, and papers the walls with Xeroxed documents from two sculptural programs, World Piece (1973 and continuing) and On Board Q-E 2 (1974).

For World Piece, Mock entrusts his plastic assemblages to travelers who place and photograph them in various spots around the world—on a crowded street, draped over a nude woman’s shoulders, dropped on an antique Roman floor mosaic. Mock produced color Xerox editions of the photographs mounted two to a page. If the content of World Piece lies in how the works are placed, then Mock abdicates it to the travelers. His part lies solely in the set up, the system that illumines the life of the artwork after it leaves his hands. This life is in large measure controlled and observed, complementary to but quite different from the life of the works had they been sold outright.

I think that the pretty plastic works themselves are ultimately irrelevant to the piece, that is, to the process with which Mock concerns himself. He resolutely asserts the esthetic component of World Piece right down to the documents in off-register Xerographic color that so harmoniously replicates the weather-beaten color of his assemblages. As a system of sites, World Piece is thinly reasoned; it does not expand that mode, but resonates aspects of it. The piece looks like a sculptor’s trendy accommodation to a vogue style, a tastefully documented series of acts and consequences.

In On Board Q-E 2, a large oval piece set up on a green plastic tarp and surrounded by bright yellow pillow-shaped balloons relates to a series of photos of swimming pools on the decks of a luxury liner, some of which are paired with photos of the plastic pillows washed up on the beach. The exhibited assemblages of Q-E 2 are more schematic than the weathered collages of World Piece. The spectator’s effort to see them in relation to the documents, as types, emblems, or as fittings, is a lot like looking at a commercial catalogue and making a simple equation of image and use. The object/concept mix in Q-E 2 is more sophisticated than in World Piece. The documents become real clues for thinking about sculptural forms and themes, much like the collages and drawings that explicate Claes Oldenburg’s iconography of correspondences.

Alan Moore