new-york

View of “Francis Cape,” 2013.

Francis Cape

Murray Guy

View of “Francis Cape,” 2013.

A bench is a minimal form. A plank supported by two legs (or in some instances by four), maybe braced with crosspieces, a bench is hard and narrow, typically backless, conducive to sitting upright. Comparatively easy to build and a leveler of hierarchy, such furniture takes on particular resonance when used, as it has been for centuries, in vowed communities, where the mundane facts of simplicity and nonluxuriousness plus the lack of precedence for seated members take on symbolic value. A bench is a social sculpture, and this is why it interests Francis Cape.

Cape trained as a woodworker, and his art engages traditions of radical craft in the service of political awareness; his cabinetry- and architecture-based projects have inquired into the socialism of William Morris and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Cape’s latest undertaking, “Utopian Benches,” 2011–, explores the design

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the October 2013 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.