One of the seven freestanding components of Jesse Darling’s Liberty Poles (all works 2016) clattered to the floor at the opening of “Atrophilia”in late October, when someone brushed against it. So many signs are ominous in retrospect, but this incident felt especially preordained: The two-person exhibition with Phoebe Collings-James had taken its title from a word invented by the two artists to convey a “desire for collapse or stasis” (a fall into rest or hibernation, then, rather than anarchy).
Liberty Poles comprises several empty, upturned bags of Gold Medal–brand flour positioned atop spindly, uneven poles and a single crutch. Resembling a group of unsteady stilt-walkers, the sculpturewhich is festooned with festive red ribbonsnods toward Juvenal’s critique of Rome’s commoners, who he said were interested only in “bread and circuses,” or pacifying forms of entertainment.
Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.