Paris

Daiga Grantina, Quitting the House (detail), 2014, string, rope, wire, polyurethane-elastomer, polyurethane, acrylic, 92 1/2 × 6 × 6".

Daiga Grantina, Quitting the House (detail), 2014, string, rope, wire, polyurethane-elastomer, polyurethane, acrylic, 92 1/2 × 6 × 6".

Daiga Grantina

GALERIE JOSEPH TANG

Daiga Grantina, Quitting the House (detail), 2014, string, rope, wire, polyurethane-elastomer, polyurethane, acrylic, 92 1/2 × 6 × 6".

“Legal Beast Language,” the title of Daiga Grantina’s first Paris solo show, is a phrase borrowed from The Age of Wire and String, American author Ben Marcus’s 1995 field guide for an alternative universe. This cryptic glossary term is the only explicit reference to Marcus’s book, but a line from the introduction—“by looking at an object we destroy it with our desire, that for accurate vision to occur the thing must be trained to see itself”—provides a useful approach to the Latvian-born, Berlin-based artist’s latest body of work: five tantalizing amalgams of found items and crudely modified industrial metals and plastics. At first glance, Grantina’s sculptures appear to be pure abstractions: contemporary incarnations of 1950s art informel. On closer inspection, however, various elements (beaded necklaces, a plastic arm, a taillight from a car) begin to take on human characteristics, to suggest recognizable, if unnameable, beings—some decayed, others seemingly animate and, conceivably, capable of seeing themselves.

Near the center of the gallery, the spindly, lumpy, elongated sculpture Quitting the House (all works 2014) hung from the ceiling and touched the floor. Like a prisoner’s, the humanoid form’s vertically extended arms are bound together, with wire and ribbons; a chain dangles from its single avian tripod foot. The surface of this Giacometti-esque body, oozing with plastic, evokes warm and runny human excretions. Across the room, FRUSC protruded horizontally from the wall. Recalling Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow’s provocative illuminated plastic sculptures of lips and breasts from the mid-’60s to early ’70s, Grantina’s translucent oblong cocoon contains a silver spray-painted mannequin arm, five stalks of plastic asparagus, and a row of four glowing, green-tinted LED lights. Adding to FRUSC’s eerie organic quality, the light source sealed inside the murky plastic chrysalis is impossible to replace, thus giving the sculpture a life span of sorts.

Issues related to temporality have dominated Grantina’s past works, notably her video projections onto aluminum panels, such as those in her 2012–14 “OX-train” series. Going one step further here, the artist combined time-based media with three-dimensional forms. The largest work on view, , comprises (among other things) melted plastic, aluminum scraps, wires, gauze, and two video projections. Set on the floor against one of the gallery’s white walls, the cavernous heap provided a multidimensional reflective backdrop for projections referencing the fabrication process and subsequent exhibition of the work itself. One projection from across the room cast a magenta hue and a radial grid onto the sculpture and wall behind. This video also includes shots of ’s raw materials still in Grantina’s studio. Meanwhile, a second projector nestled within the sculpture played video imagery of the gallery’s tubular fluorescent lights onto its translucent and reflective surfaces. Collapsing the period between creation and exhibition, Grantina incorporates both temporalities into the finished work. Harking back to Marcus’s text, the artist’s “desire” to create an “accurate vision”—in this case, one that simultaneously embodies the past and the present—complicates (if not fully destroys) her sculptures’ status as mere objects.

Mara Hoberman