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View of “Steven Claydon,” 2012.

Steven Claydon

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View of “Steven Claydon,” 2012.

British artist Steven Claydon’s comprehensive solo show “Culpable Earth” invests the artist’s interests in tradition and ethnography with a contemporary approach to museum display. The exhibition, his first major solo show in the UK, reads as a contemporary retelling of a forgotten or unknown history. It is one filled with bearded men, ambiguous pseudomachinery, and quizzical artifacts.

Taking center stage in the exhibition is The passage of differentiated substance (all works 2012)—a large, carlike combination of wheels, I I beams, and an antique-looking barrel with a cast of a face protruding from its surface. The work suggests items salvaged from the past, yet on closer inspection, their immaculate condition and industrial origins contradict these initial impressions, placing them instead in an uneasy relationship with the present. (The face, it turns out, is that of Alfred

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