Elizabeth Wright

With her latest show, Elizabeth Wright brought grunge into the London art world. Dismissing the theatricality of the gallery’s minimalist decor, she constructed an installation reminiscent of adolescent all-nighters, filled with bags of chips, phone calls, and beer: the gallery looked like an apartment inhabited by a group of teenage boys. Elongated designer beer cans, each with their signature label, were lined up against a wall like trophies. A desk at the other side of the room mingled a shrunken Yellow Pages with a scattering of snacks.

Precise in its construction, the work was playfully confusing in its mock illusionism. Wright went to considerable effort to make her world perfect, only to mess it up a little. Her precise staging—a photograph of a potato chip adorned a miniature phone book—indicated that Wright was after something more than creating the perfect art object. Wreaking her revenge on the austere ’80s matte-black esthetic, Wright maps a territory that is the make-believe world of the designer yob. This was the girl’s version of Sarah Lucas’ “I want to be a boy” stance.

By distorting the scale of objects found in the world to reflect her own personalized, miniaturized version, she presents a dollhouse of lackadaisical living. The Alice in Wonderland quality of the installations heightened the work’s uncanniness. By changing the scale and varying her choice of objects, Wright created the impression that something was definitely amiss. With her loose, unrigorous approach to remaking the real world, she put a personal spin on the fashion for miniaturizing the found object. Wright is a woman willing and able to take on the rough-and-ready world of lager-lout culture.

Martin Maloney