Chicago

Tony Tasset

Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Pulling back the curtain that usually obscures the mechanics by which art is displayed, Tony Tasset presents presentation. In the process, he reveals connections between these usually anonymous procedures and the larger institution of art. His is an art of necessary deflation, a measured autopsy, that reveals and exposes the systems that sustain art’s autonomy.

Abstraction with Cardboard Corners (#3) (all works 1990), a work that consists of a rectangular slab of wood painted a creamy white, leans against a wall with its four corners sheathed in protective cardboard. Seemingly forgotten or set aside—caught in a vulnerable zone of meaninglessness—it patiently awaits transformation, via its positioning, into a privileged art object. By freezing the work in this limbo, Tasset quietly undercuts our Pavlovian expectations, forcing us to confront them via a circuitous route. Is the slab less a work of art at this moment? What of our desire to resolve this ambiguity? And finally, when this piece of Tasset’s itself is again prepared for transport, will bigger cardboard corners be used to sheathe these “original” ones?

In Cloth Drop, Tasset tossed a drop cloth in a corner of the gallery, had it photographed, and then framed the picture as part of the piece. Again, the ephemeral moment when the trappings are cast aside becomes the central focus. Sensing that much of the meaning of a package lies in its wrapping, Tasset’s intervention questions the hierarchies we take for granted. He has requested that Cloth Drop be rephotographed at each installation and that the new photograph supersede the previous one. Another piece, Pallet, rests on the floor. Immaculate and pristine, fabricated out of stained maple wood, and constructed with tidy wooden joins, the object generates a respect for the functional architecture and design of the common weight-bearing implement it mimics. This work is not a found object. Tasset did not bring a pallet into the gallery space; rather, he recast it and enhanced it, suggesting a winsome parallel universe, in which process is not only the means to an end but is endowed with its own dignity, worth, and meaning.

Cup is a small sculpture of a Styrofoam coffee cup with a spiral tear running from top to bottom. It seems a bit of garbage, but in fact, Tasset had the cup cast in bronze and painted white. A fury of tangential verisimilitude, a determined refusal to surrender even the trash surrounding the installation of an exhibition, this piece is the work of a stubborn wit and a testament that meaning frequently reveals itself at the margins of the conditional orders we impose.

James Yood

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