New York

Annette Messager

Josh Baer Gallery

In The Uses of Enchantment, 1975, Bruno Bettelheim asserts that, for a child, the psychological function of fantasy and especially fairy tales is to gain “understanding . . . not through rational comprehension of the nature and content of his unconscious, but by becoming familiar with it through spinning out daydreams—ruminating, rearranging, and fantasizing about suitable story elements in response to unconscious pressures.” Annette Messager’s recent exhibition, “Les Piques” (The pikes) fulfills this function by combining references to daily events and realities with submerged fantasies, hallucinations, and horrors.

In a series of four tableaux spread across two galleries, Messager employed thin metal rods either to impale or to support objects against the wall. The largest of these tableaux, which gave the exhibition its title, consisted of 183 rods spread across 50 feet on two adjoining

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