“Constructions: Between Scultpure and Architecture”

In the 20th century, construction, once associated almost exclusively with architecture, has become central to art-making as well. It has provided access to a site for much provocative as well as much forgettable work. Although “Constructions: Between Sculpture and Architecture” did not raise new issues, curator Frederieke Taylor did present a lively look at eight young New York artists who are responding to the challenges of this hybrid zone with exceptional intelligence and vitality.

In Amy Hauft’s Theater of Memory and Surveillance, 1988, a length of chiffon hanging from the ceiling to the floor formed a cylindrical space. Inside, a rotating fan generated a gentle and constant agitation of the fabric walls. Around the chiffon panels, nine framed mirrors suspended by wires from the ceiling formed another cylindrical element at eye level. One mirror was layered with acetate photographic positives of 18th-century Neoclassicist Claude-Nicolas Ledoux’s Eye Reflecting the Interior of the Theater of Besançon, and the other eight with a detail from his Château de Benouville. The gentle oscillations of the chiffon walls and the strange optical effects produced by the mirrors and overlaid images created a quixotic space generated by controlled calculations, an intense volume of illusions.

Halcyon, 1986, by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel, constructed in the back room of the gallery, was another site of metaphysical musing. The walls of the space were stained deep blue. A blower at the base of a tilted rocketlike object sent gold dust spiraling, in a pattern of suspended glitter, into a transparent chamber just above. Another glass cylinder above this chamber contained a small sphere that gently bobbed in the breeze created by the blower. Topped by a copper-clad nose cone, the entire apparatus appeared to be repelled and set awry by a rotating, black sphere hung from the ceiling. Jones’ and Ginzel’s comprehensive and meticulous transformations of interior spaces into evocative, mysterious environments continue to be a unique galvanization of architectural space and found and invented sculptural forms.

Throughout the gallery space, the muffled sound of small hammers striking hard surfaces was audible. The source was Lauren Ewing’s The Factory Making Itself, 1987, seven stacked shelves mounted on the wall, each shelf bearing a row of seven red objects whose forms recalled the typology of the industrial workplace. From within these 49 diminutive “buildings,” striking noises were emitted at irregular intervals. It was a brilliant and witty piece about technology’s need to perpetuate itself independent of its need to produce objects.

These and the four other projects (by Dennis Adams, Niki Logis, Andy Yoder, and Martin Myers) shared at least one common idea: they all appeared to be art commenting on, critiquing, or utilizing architecture, challenging the differences that the culture insistently perpetuates between the two. The process of synthesis is still explicit rather than intrinsic, but these projects suggest that the “between” may well become a new condition—mutable and open to both artists and architects to explore their particular concepts of space.

Patricia C. Phillips