los-angeles

David Schafer, What Should a Painter Do? (detail), 2011, dyed poplar, ink-jet print, playback and speaker system, CD, looped three-channel audio. Installation view.

David Schafer

DIANE ROSENSTEIN

David Schafer, What Should a Painter Do? (detail), 2011, dyed poplar, ink-jet print, playback and speaker system, CD, looped three-channel audio. Installation view.

Talking sculptures are a staple of amusement parks, trade fairs, and museums of science, industry, and history, and are sometimes even found in churches. In art, however, they remain exceptional for the simple reason that sculpture’s effect has generally been understood to hinge on arrested potential; thus, a work’s force of expression is perhaps best measured against the pressure of its withholding. To furnish such a structure with a sound track could be seen as self-defeating, at least from the perspective of medium specificity—that critical tenet of modernism, a period that remains a central point of contention here—yet David Schafer has been carrying off this problematic conflation for the past two decades. This exhibition, which included works dating back to 2001, amounted to a mini-retrospective of the artist’s experiments with sound-equipped built forms, and its

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