reviews

Vanessa Billy, Monument, 2016, car engine, food-grade silicone, 51 1/4 × 47 1/4 × 27 1/2".

Vanessa Billy

BolteLang

Vanessa Billy, Monument, 2016, car engine, food-grade silicone, 51 1/4 × 47 1/4 × 27 1/2".

In this age of technology, materials have become a major concern in contemporary sculpture, with artists showing keen interest not so much in their intrinsic properties as in the meditative observation of their behavior. Rather than being manipulated and transformed according to someone’s aesthetic decision, materials perform; they take on a role that turns out to be just as active as that of the artist, or even more so. Formerly a maker, the artist is relegated to a more contemplative—and often perplexed—position. Sculpture is the vessel of a force, the container of a drive that conveys endless expectation. Vanessa Billy’s work epitomizes this trend: She sets a stage where matter is put into motion.

In a show in Brussels last year, Billy hung two car engines from the ceiling (The Living and the Dead I and II, 2015). Despite the mechanical nature of these objects, a sense

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