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Magali Reus, Lukes (Wet Wet), 2013, mixed media, 54 1/2 x 35 x 43 1/2". From the series “Lukes,” 2013–.

Magali Reus

The Approach

Magali Reus, Lukes (Wet Wet), 2013, mixed media, 54 1/2 x 35 x 43 1/2". From the series “Lukes,” 2013–.

Magali Reus’s exhibition “In Lukes and Dregs” came with a feverish press release promising “dirty realism,” “perversion,” “social taboo,” “filthy interiors,” “amoral vices,” “sexualized . . . protrusions,” Brutalism and fetishism—but visitors hoping for a McCarthyesque, abject grime-fest would have been badly let down. This was a coolly installed show combining eight squeaky-clean sculptures in a quietly thoughtful way. No smells, slime, or grisly prostheses; rather, a calm reflection on ideas of material preservation and indeterminacy—and by extension (since all that stuff that doesn’t die is both “of us” and “not us,” in complex ways) on present-day puzzles over human relationships to inanimate matter.

The clues were everywhere—in the show’s imagery, most obviously. The three pieces from a series bearing the curious title “Lukes,” 2013–, resemble simplified fridges,

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