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Indepth Arts News:

"Sculpture Now: Works by Seven Contemporary Artists"
2002-06-28 until 2002-08-25
Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art
Lake Worth, FL, USA

The Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art (PBICA) is pleased to announce SCULPTURE NOW running through August 25. SCULPTURE NOW is curated by PBICA Director Michael Rush and Assistant Curator Jody Servon. "This exhibition explores the unusual and provocative ways artists are re-defining sculpture. Each of the artists in SCULPTURE NOW has inherited a highly elastic view of sculpture. Unique as they are, each artist seeks to engage viewers with a rethinking of what sculpture can be," says Michael Rush, PBICA Director.

"Some want to provoke, others want to communicate something very personal. Some see technology as their friend, others see current consumerism, including technology, as toxic. Some want to engage all your senses, others want to make you a little uncomfortable. Some will inspire awe, others confusion, at least at first."

The Exhibition
Thomas Hirschhorn’s series, Sculpture Direct, (there are five in all, made in 1999, with II and IV exhibited here) is, like all of his sculpture, a political visual document with implicit polemical statements. Constructed of industrial throw-away goods and materials such as duct tape, Styrofoam, wood scraps, foil, and cardboard, brandishing words and phrases like "Islam," "Israel," "Combat," and "Ideal Mort" (Ideal Death), they are criticisms of modern consumer society and contemporary world politics. Hirschhorn was born in Bern, Switzerland in 1957. His work is most at home on the street, the source of his inspiration. He has, in fact, "exhibited" his constructions on staircases in housing projects, in public parks, in front of buildings. He has made altars (the kind you see at death sites of the famous—like Princess Diana—or the unknown car accident victim on the highway) and displays in subway stations. Hirschhorn has an agenda and it doesn’t involve beauty. He describes his Sculpture Direct works as "models for monuments" which are challenges to the traditional monument. "A monument is determined, produced and situated by decisions from above, by the power," he wrote in February 2000. "Whether it is the monument to Abraham Lincoln or Christopher Columbus...there is always something demagogic. I want to fight against hierarchy, demagogy, this source of power."

Xavier Veilhan's Le Train (The Train) is a reexamination of familiar imagery triggered by its transposition to an electrical light display. Veilhan programs a lightboard to suggest movement. But it is only a lightboard, a piece of technology that plays with our senses and our ways of seeing. You are not meant to respond intimately to the image of the train but rather to think about how we react to imagery, and the ways in which imagery is delivered to us. For Veilhan, who was born in 1963 in Lyon, France, art is a project: a constantly evolving engagement with the world and our perceptions of the world. He makes us look...and look again.

Jaume Plensa’s Birnam references Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Made of clear and red glass globules that remind you of tears and drops of blood, the work is more like a poetic metaphor than like a traditional sculptural image, more like a manifestation of an image drawn from the drama. Plensa, who was born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1955, began as a sculptor making immense iron objects weighing tons, he has turned to more ephemeral materials like light, glass, wood, plastic, and neon. His work now contains an airiness and fluidity that appear more other-worldly than concrete. Plensa’s work, grounded in the poetry and movement of theater, creates a vessel for human memory as well as hopes.

Robert Taplin's Jupiter is comprised of two enormous and identical male nudes that present a god literally alive with internal light. The two fleshy figures, not physically idealized as gods usually are, struggle to touch, to communicate. But, like all creatures etched in stone (or in this case resin and plaster), they are doomed to an eternity of "not-quite:" not-quite together, not-quite able to merge into the other. They are, of course, the same being, the same split being seeking reintegration. Taplin, who was born in Clevland, Ohio, in 1950, has long sculpted men and women in their isolated selves (often using his own body as a model).

Cathy de Monchaux’s Breach, made of unusual materials such as leather, fur, velvet and thread, is an overlay of imagery, suggestive of both jewelry and undersea mollusks, of sexuality and primitive animality. Behind the galvanized metal covering in the four pieces that comprise Breach are floppy pieces of red satin, that, like the rose-colored heart in Mordant Rapture, could at any minute erupt with fluids or other excreta. Despite her serious intentions, de Monchaux, who was born in London, England in 1960, seems also to be having a good time. De Monchaux, a runner up for Britain’s Turner prize in 1988, seduces you into close scrutinies of her objects, only to surprise you with bold depictions of female genitalia and other sexually-charged imagery.

Leo Villareal’s Hexad shows the new medium of contemporary sculpture used in an innovative way. Villareal's light works are different from Veilhan's — they are not about examination of the image. The pulses and patterns of Villareal's light displays are orchestrated to defy the viewer's ability to resolve them into a recognizable sequence — they offer no images and no ideas to ruminate over. Instead, they are designed to fascinate, to transform the viewer's state of mind, creating what Villareal calls a "release, a letting go." Leo Villareal, who was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1967, exploits the mystery that technology can offer. Although he is full master of his interactive technologies, his work allows for wonder and imagined universes.

Sally Ordile's 14 Stations, is the first public showing of her work. Her ebony, shroud-like forms (made of palm stalks) are deliberately suggestive of women in different, often difficult, situations. Each figure symbolizes a woman’s voyage down a path of self-sacrifice and humiliation. Ordile, 56, moved to Boynton Beach in 1998 from New Jersey where she had been a school teach for many years. According to Rush, "It is very exciting for us at PBICA to discover and present a new talent. Ordile’s work has echoes of Eva Hesse, Kiki Smith and a host of other female artists for whom women’s issues are the centerpiece of their work."

SCULPTURE NOW will be on view on the main floor of the museum. The artists in the exhibition are: Thomas Hirschhorn, Jaume Plensa, Xavier Veilhan, Leo Villareal, Robert Taplin and Cathy de Monchaux. Sally Ordile’s work will be featured on the mezzanine. Accompanying the exhibition is a full-color publication with essays by Michael Rush, Jody Servon and Mark Daniel Cohen, a New York based artist and writer.

Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art

In July of 1999, philanthropists Robert M. and Mary Montgomery purchased from Palm Beach Community College and renovated the landmark art deco movie theater that houses the PBICA. Established by J. Patrick Lannan, who renovated the facility in 1980 to house his collection of contemporary art and design, the building and remaining works were donated in 1989 by the Lannan family to Palm Beach Community College (as the Lannan Foundation and a majority of the collection were relocated to Los Angeles.)

Today housed in the 1939 Lake Theater on the Main Street of Lake Worth, Florida, the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art is devoted to the premise that contemporary art is a vital means of understanding the world and today’s culture. Since it’s opening in 2000, PBICA has presented acclaimed exhibitions including, Making Time, BROOKLYN! and Video Jam. The ICA has been covered widely in the local and national press, including The New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, ArtNews, the Palm Beach Post and Daily News and the Miami Herald.

The exhibition and museum programs of the Palm Beach ICA are generously supported by Robert M. and Mary Montgomery. Adelphia is the communications sponsor.

Thomas Hirschhorn
Sculpture Direct IV, 2000
Wood, cardboard, plastic foils, aluminum foils, tape,
lights, television, video player, color
paintings, prints, markers, self-adhesive stickers
104 x 104 x 69 in.
Collection of Camille Oliver-Hoffman

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