New York

Shinique Smith

The Proposition

Walking among Shinique Smith’s boxy sculptures is like wandering through an abandoned city in which the presence of those who have vanished is still palpable. Some of the works are tall and solid, as imposing and insistent as memorial stelae; others are small and square, the kind of things you’re likely to trip over, like the gravestones of children. The fact that all these sculptures are made of bundled clothes and other cast-offs—old skirts and stray pom-poms, garbage bags and action figures, even a T-shirt bearing the logo for the 2004 Armory Show—adds a suggestion of compound narrative, retaining too the melancholy of the secondhand.

The sadness of unwanted things has been thoroughly mined by such artists as Mike Kelley and Christian Boltanski, but in her best works, Smith’s impulse is more akin to the intricate assemblage practiced by Petah Coyne. Voodoo Children, 2005, is made entirely

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