Louise Weaver

Louise Weaver uses thread to knit and crochet coverings for antlers, cups, branches, and lightbulbs. The humble objects this young artist creates are delicately and intensely erotic, resonating with great poignancy. The art in her recent exhibition was intensely iconic, like a late-’90s reworking of Beuys, without the earlier artist’s belief but with the affect. The domestic impact and size of I am transforming an antler into a piece of coral by crocheting its entire surface, 1995, is that of an item in a miniature curiosity cabinet: works like these are transformations of quotidian things modified by structures deeply familiar from Modernist abstraction, but mediated through criteria that are so obscure as to be impossible to judge.

Through a cursory but exquisite replication of the look of nonobjective art, Weaver creates a generalized congruence between antlers and two art-historical precedents: Beuys’ anthroposophic sublime and Minimalism’s fetishization of surface. The complications don’t stop there: she adopts the psychological implications of the fetish, but also the ethic of feminized labor (some of the pieces that appeared here, for example, recall the art of Eva Hesse), grafting these onto abstraction so that her sculptures seamlessly incorporate two approaches to artmaking.

In these works Modernist abstraction and shamanism are rendered so delicately distant that they become equally unrecognizable. Weaver’s little objects proliferate rhizomatically and asymmetrically, so that the connection with their origins, including systems-based serial models, is discernible, but remote. The phallic bulge in The Blue Tulip, 1996, serves, on the one hand, as a severe division of the gallery space, and on the other as a trace of the object’s origin as a lightbulb. Despite their fetishistic qualities, Weaver’s woven readymades insist on their status as interruptions in space; similarly, in other exhibitions she has covered whole walls with flotillas of tiny constructions crafted from glass beads.

Weaver’s work often involves a type of camouflage, blending equally articulated metaphoric spaces: neither the overall field of formal relationships nor the play of difference between original object and woven fragment dominates. I am transforming an antler into a piece of coral by crocheting its entire surface doubles, therefore, as an image pointing both to biology and the inflected fields of endgame Modernism.

Weaver’s intricate fetishes develop from an intensely physical elaboration of the connection between erotic touch and sexual gesture, and from a minimalism that oscillates between textile surface and geometric neutrality, as if crocheting were the most natural way to empty objects of signification. The peculiar power of Weaver’s creations answers to what seems to be a widely felt need for an exquisite opacity in artmaking.

Charles Green