los-angeles

Garry Simmons

Margo Leavin Gallery

In a witty and often disturbing installation of sculptural objects, Gary Simmons explored the ideological structures that link the conformist values of bourgeois educational systems with the art institution. Simmons’ basic strategy is to make a trope of that Marxist staple, “class,” by blurring semantic and contextual distinctions between classroom, art-world classification, and the roles perpetuated by the dominant class structure. These relationships were established from the moment the viewer entered the gallery lobby. The first thing to come into view was Eraser Chair (all works, 1989), a Beuysian schoolroom chair composed entirely of blackboard erasers. Its isolation and vacancy raised the question, Where is the student? The answer was immediate: in the far corner stood a tall white dunce cap resting on a wooden stool (Big Dunce). The object, which acted as a stand-in for the pupil’s

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