The Curatorial Research Lab at Winkleman Gallery presents What is left., a group exhibition featuring Nina Lola Bachhuber, Elissa Levy, Nick Herman, and curated by Rachel Gugelberger.
Taking advantage of CRLab’s experimental mandate, What is left takes a two-fold approach. While it is a thematic exhibition, it is presented through a metamorphosing curatorial lens that unfolds over time. Works by the artists will be individually introduced, swapped out and/or rearranged, resulting in a variety of improvised juxtapositions. Adding a layer of temporality to the curatorial and viewing process, What is left hopes to challenge some of the preconceptions about the experience of viewing art in a gallery.
The residue of the show’s varied installations
- nails, holes in the wall, cleats, hooks, spatial gaps - will remain visible during the course of the exhibition, serving as evidence, clue or perhaps even aura that inform one’s understanding and interpretation of the show’s underlying theme. If a gallery is a vessel in which one’s own body relates in time and space to works of art, What is left explores how this relationship might change within the confines of a single thematic premise, using a specific selection of work. While What is left does not intend to challenge the exhibition’s basic premise, the inclusion of works and the arrangement of the installation will be altered, allowing for multiple permutations.
The human body itself is present in each of the works in What is left, but it is de-contextualized, amputated, animated, adorned, obscured. With a keen eye for modes of display, Nina Lola Bachhuber combines the formal language of surrealist sculpture with post-minimalist tendencies. Her curious, pseudo-mythological creatures are adorned with an array of decorative elements
- hair, beads, nylons, leather - arranged in a manner that heightens the tension and confusion between their intended use and their engimatic presentation. Bachhuber reconstructs her materials into seemingly ceremonial or devotional objects that revel in a realm of fetishistic obsession that is both playful and sinister. Here, for example, a viewer may see three bewigged skulls transformed into monopodic homunculi displayed on a modernist coffee table, the surface of which is composed of a meticulously hand-drawn pattern of geometric design. Invoking a menacing version of the Three Graces or even a collection of memento mori, Bachhuber’s tableau puts forth a multiplicity of speculative possibilities.
The work of Nick Herman explores the psychological desire for myth; in particular, the allegorical power of the American West and the “Promised Land” as informed by popular culture, geo-politics, religion and secular vocabularies. Themes of violence, entropy and excess are, as the artist states, “often coupled with popular and highly marketed popular archetypes of heroism and material apotheosis, striking in rich for example in sexual vigor.” In sculpture and works on paper, the figure is possessed by a desire for improved states and prosperity. In Paradise Valley, for example, copulating figures are almost obscured by the earthquake-damaged landscape that envelops them, underscored by an eruption of a repetitive pattern that suggests decorative wallpaper or architectural plans. A combination of traditional materials with fat and milk solids for example, emphasize not only the entropic qualities of the human body and its environs, but the extreme divide separating desire and excess.
Working directly on newspapers and magazines, Elissa Levy deconstructs various male icons
- soldiers, athletes, celebrities and politicians - that populate the printed media. Isolating their forms, she strips them of identifiable cues of power or fame, reducing them to ghost-like apparitions. Reanimated in pen and paint with concentric lines of fluorescent colors, these reimagined and reworked figures look like renderings of auras or infrared photography, as if providing a glimpse into their core. Approached with a punk DIY ethos and the use of craft materials, Levy transforms contemporary artifacts into raw and makeshift future relics. While aggressively de-contextualizing (limbs are amputated) or eradicating these figures in their current mass-reproduced form, Levy painstakingly alters them into otherworldly silhouettes that distract from their socially constructed masculinity.