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Phyllida Barlow, demo, 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable. Photo: Annik Wetter.

Phyllida Barlow

Kunsthalle Zurich

Phyllida Barlow, demo, 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable. Photo: Annik Wetter.

Phyllida Barlow’s 2014 Tate Britain Commission dock inevitably evoked the history of the Port of London. With its motley sacks and tangles of cranes, the piece recalled the waterfront as it appeared before the arrival of the shipping container redefined global trade in terms of anonymous, neatly stackable metric boxes that could just as easily contain weapons as toys. A carnival of open sculptural forms, dock was a raucous response to the stern Neoclassicism of the Duveen Galleries, and was well received by press and public alike.

Barlow’s successor installation, demo, 2016, had a slightly more melancholy effect. Wandering into it felt akin to entering a forest after a flood—the floor was scoured clear, but at the high-water mark the branches held aloft what looked like nonsensical, oversize pieces of furniture—stranded rafts, twists of fabric, a grand piano or two. The

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