Curated by Daniel Baumann
John Armleder, Justin Beal, Trisha Donnelly, Isa Genzken, Julian Göthe, Wade Guyton, Rachel Harrison, Nathan Hylden, Liz Larner, Elfie Semotan, Andro Wekua, Heimo Zobernig
Pose and sculpture are two terms that, in recent times, elicited nothing so much as derision and contempt: pose for being associated with phony social behavior and in authenticity; sculpture because it was juxtaposed with an anti-modernist practice. Freestanding sculpture was seen as a form of glorification, illusion, and hierarchy—a way to fetishize permanence rather than reflecting context, contingency, process, and the contemporary world. It wasn’t until early Constructivism and Minimal Art that new forms of sculpture were established. A process-oriented art, one that focused on the viewer and his actual experience of time and space, replaced the traditional face-to-face encounter that had dominated art for centuries. More recently, this important shift culminated in installation art, transforming an emancipatory gesture into a space for the event culture as a commodity.
It is for these reasons-
not out of nostalgia or sentimentality-that this year’s summer show at Casey Kaplan Gallery focuses on pose and sculpture, to introduce distance in a time obsessed with identification and immersion. Displayed in the gallery’s two spaces are sculptures by John Armleder, Justin Beal, Trisha Donnelly, Isa Genzken, Julian Göthe, Wade Guyton, Rachel Harrison, Nathan Hylden, Liz Larner, Andro Wekua, and Heimo Zobernig. On the walls hang portraits of artists, writers, actors, and musicians by the U.S. Austrian photographer Elfie Semotan. The portraits reveal the ambiguous relationship between the model and the photographer-a relationship that becomes even more controversial when the artist is put into the role of the object and thus becomes “sculpture.” In this way, pose becomes central not only as an elegant camouflage but as a virtuous expression of contempt. Now the freestanding sculptures don’t face a photographer, but the dubious history of sculpture itself—and, possibly, a skeptical spectator. Standing in front of us with the same self-consciousness that the subject needs posing in front of the camera, they demand the distance necessary to create space for reflection.