London

Andreas Slominski

Serpentine Galleries

Those expecting only traps and tricks were in for a revelation at this show: Slominski paints. Yet his paintings—executed in garish colors on expanded polystyrene, foam, and plastic shapes—looked more like gigantic frosted cakes or pages from children’s pop-up books propped against the wall. Cutout objects, both magical (four-leaf clovers) and commonplace (nails), adorned the surfaces, which appeared to have been traversed by toylike sets of (Slomin)skis and poles, affixed to some of the paintings in lieu of a signature. Their cryptic titles—xHBy181z, 2005; xHBy62z, 2005—suggested locations on a map of the universe. The recurrent clocks—molded in eclectic styles, telling different times, and showing hands or hours askew—seemed to fuse discordant measures of the cosmos: light-years with dog years, seasons with time zones, the mythological time of storytelling with the measured time of the phone bill.

Slominski—a Bartleby who prefers not to do tasks efficiently—seems bent on describing his experiences slowing down a world that values only what can be accelerated. His paintings, however descriptive, reflect an attempt to produce narratives where efficiency erases them or produces the same story over and over again. Transport seemed to be the particular target here; moving an object from point A to B, one hopes that nothing else will happen. Painting on Styrofoam products instead of canvas, Slominski chose the packing material par excellence, molded into the shape of the object carried, and only to be discarded as a mute carcass when the merchandise reaches its destination. Instead of using Styrofoam to make empty shells, Slominski made colored shapes to be filled, not with commodities but with viewers’ associations.

The video Painting Transported by Mimes, 2005, also underscores the means of transport: Two performers carry an invisible painting—in other words, nothing—through the door of the Royal College of Art. For the sculpture Imprint of the Nose Cone of a Glider, 2005, a glider was carried into the gallery to create an imprint in a square of orthopedic foam, normally used to make insoles for human, walking feet, not the noses of flying planes. (Slominski even asked the Serpentine Gallery to hire a company to tally vehicles coming in and out of Kensington Gardens on the day of the glider’s arrival to make sure its passage to the gallery, set within the park, would be seen and recorded for history.) Other carriers depicted included a cross-country skier, a ship, a taxi driver, Popsicle sticks, and even a second hand designed for Big Ben (unlike the digital second, the second hand treats every moment as a space to be traversed). Traps for an albatross and tsetse flies warned about travelers who may be carrying hidden cargo: bad luck or illness.

By focusing on transport, Slominski continues a reflection on mass displacements, both forced and voluntary—a theme that characterized his 2003 show at the Fondazione Prada in Milan. Instead of documenting the effects of moving goods and people, this exhibition made visible the seemingly innocent mediums, from packaging to planes, that facilitate transport. By frustrating their intended efficiency to create other narratives, Slominski underscores the silence that surrounds every package that has arrived safely at its final destination.

Jennifer Allen