Los Angeles

Nancy Lupo, AAA (detail), 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Nancy Lupo, AAA (detail), 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Nancy Lupo

Nancy Lupo, AAA (detail), 2016, mixed media, dimensions variable.

For Kristina Kite’s inaugural show, Nancy Lupo crafted a sprawling tapestry, whose distinct sections of clustered disposable cutlery, bound together with dental floss and intermittently studded with various foodstuffs and trinkets, were meant to represent the four seasons. The gallery space, formerly an artist’s studio, features an optically arresting mosaic of black-and-white and terrazzo tiles that predates Kite’s arrival. The architecture granted Lupo’s floor-bound arrangement an additional layer of complexity, providing a room-scale ground to the imposing swaths that visually warped the woven lattices when spied in the spaces between their mesh. Employing a framing strategy similar to that of her 2016 show at New York’s Swiss Institute, the artist gathered and sorted items thematically. Her checklist reveals a veritable laundry list of objects grouped together: The work in full, titled AAA, 2016, in reference to the show title “All Always Already,” was (mostly) dedicated to all things oral and included the aforementioned utensils and flosses alongside candies, real and fake produce, and dog chews.

Each “season” of the overall tapestry had a distinct temperature, although which section was which was not immediately apparent. The verdant green copse was revealed to be inspired not by “spring” or “summer” but by “fall,” in an inversion of the quartet trope’s persistent logic. The first section one saw on entry, “spring,” was in fact a riotous jumble of brightly colored plastic forks—orange, purple, aqua, red, and sunflower yellow—draped over shelves coated in roofing material and Magic-Sculpt encrusted with kitty litter. Just beyond it was “summer,” all shimmery blues. The work, composed mostly of fake sterling serving utensils, was studded with gum-paste carnations. The cutlery’s silver glint notwithstanding, they gave the appearance of strewn bones washed ashore. Off to the left, “fall” offered compostable bamboo forks and dog chews, some of the latter painted emerald green. As frames for votive offerings, the dog chews variously held emu eggs, avocados, wasabi peas, and a watermelon. Particularly affecting were tinfoil-wrapped Ferrara chocolate oranges, orbs that had been cracked with such blunt force that they splayed open to reveal petallike segments. To the right, a yellow-and-peach palette for winter offered stress balls, Jordan almonds, and a cantaloupe.

Throughout, the forks’ would-be utility was reimagined—evidencing a concerted transition on Lupo’s part from previous sculptures that served as functional pieces of furniture. Instead, the modestly scaled utensils were here deprived of any use value beyond their contribution to the composition of a nonfunctional rug. Alongside the carpet, Lupo positioned three other sculptures: a fake-fat-injected trash can whose twin was concurrently on view at Venice, California’s Muscle Beach, where it was hidden inside a large container that the artist found in New York; a diminutive bench modeled after once-ubiquitous park seating (that has mostly been removed from the city); and a second bench comprising spray millet hanging from metal clamps on either end of a seat made of steel shelving wrapped in dental floss. The latter bench had a prior life in a van parked roughly thirty minutes from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, as an offsite project for “storefront: Public Fiction: The Poet and The Critic, and the missing,” organized by curator Lauren Mackler.

These works pointed elsewhere, imbuing the situation they bracketed with a sense of contingency. So, too, did the recorded message, Hold the Phone, 2016, which consisted of a telephone number that, when dialed, connected the listener to a prerecorded message penned by Lupo and recited by painter Sascha Braunig. And yet, Lupo’s efforts evidenced a sustained engagement with her materials, however ephemeral. Like the mythical Penelope, she weaves and unweaves, her narrative remaining intact even as the text unravels.

Suzanne Hudson