Posts Tagged ‘Robert Lazzarini’

Stripped Bare

Friday, September 12th, 2014

“It’s not another tree, is it?” That was a friend’s response to my excitement over Roxy Paine’s new solo show, Denuded Lens, his first project with Marianne Boesky Gallery.  It looks like a major departure from those signature, arboreal Dendroids, which populated Madison Square Park in 2007.

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Roxy Paine, “Checkpoint,” 2014 at Marianne Boesky Gallery

Denuded Lens features four sculptures that look like wooden amalgamations of various machines used in agriculture, manufacturing, and medicine. They all lead up to Checkpoint, a wood, life-sized diorama cast in anamorphic perspective. Checkpoint is a chromatically-restricted and barren TSA checkpoint high on detailing and low on details: an accurate and dutiful representation of a real checkpoint that allows only scarce traces of human traffic.

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Roxy Paine, “Checkpoint,” 2014 (detail) at Marianne Boesky Gallery

Checkpoint recasts those Homeland Security machines, routines, and institutions that confront us so intimately, but in a formal and generic manner. That is, we surrender our privacy (and disbelief) to programs and probings that ostensibly do not discriminate between individuals, who occasionally are randomly selected for further screening. In the eyes of TSA scanners and staffers, there is no “my” in “Don’t touch my junk” – supposedly.

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Like a Chocolate Grinder? Roxy Paine, “Machine of Indeterminacy,” 2014 [detail]

Checkpoint gives viewers the time and space to gaze at these neutered security apparatuses, which look like museum relics of our post-9/11 crackdown mentality.  This might feel empowering to some viewers, who will sense the polychromatic pulse of autonomy as they freely snap photos and then walk away.

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Roxy Paine, “Scrutiny,” 2014

But we can’t get too excited about our empowered gaze. The anamorphic perspective is unsettling and disorienting; we are fooled into sensing a depth of eighty feet where there actually is a depth of only eighteen feet. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who swore that a pane of glass separated me from the diorama! svablogroxypaine2 Denuded Lens is riveting, but it isn’t unique.  Recently, other artists have overlapped into similar material and thematic territory, even if their intentions were different. For example, In 2012, Tom Friedman exhibited Untitled (video camera), a life-size video camera hand-crafted from wood and paint. In 2011, Lisa Kirk exhibited Untitled (Camera), fabricated through 3D printing. As for the distorted perspective, look at Richard Dupont or many of Robert Lazzarini’s sculptures, especially his iconic Payphone, 2000.

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Camera sculptures by Lisa Kirk (l) and Tom Friedman (r)

Richard Dupont sculptures [Image: Gail Shields-Miller]

There’s also that haunting feeling you get from a Thomas Demand environment, partly driven by the uncanny evacuation of a purposeful space.

Broken Windows

Friday, January 25th, 2013
Robert Lazzarini at Marlborough Chelsea

Robert Lazzarini (damage) at Marlborough Chelsea pairs the anamorphically aggressive artist with his first solo show at the revitalized gallery.  It features freestanding sculptures, wall-mounted signs, and an architectural intervention of canted walls, one of which looks ready to flatten any viewer who lingers too long beneath it.  The work combines technologically assisted fabrication with skilled handicraft, and the imagery suggests vandalism, breaking and entering, burglary, and the cash or lack thereof behind it all.  Violent, bloody crime is off the list – this time.   Distorted signs on the walls spell out the dialectical terms of the petty crimes we might imagine here: “Cash for Gold” and “Private Property – No Trespassing.”  And the morbid summation: “Dead End.”

An almost familiar liquor store sign melts, wriggles, and weaves upward toward the high ceiling, like a plume of blunt smoke or, if read upside down, the liquid poured from a bottle.  Nearby, a rammed door seems to jump from its splintered frame, which is fractured and bent like a folded ruler.  The sculpture is shaped like the angular word balloons that contain “Kapow!” and “Blam!” in comic books.  The door itself bears the cracked contusion of a forced entry, as if someone in heavy boots kicked it open.  Of all the sculptures in the show, this one feels forensically inspired.

Robert Lazzarini at Marlborough Chelsea
Caption!

A window with open shutters flutters like a butterfly in midair, or like a suburban home with walls liquefied, then loosened, by sin waves.  It is an optical preface to the haptic body behind it, a chain-link fence that looks ready to blow away.

Robert Lazzarini at Marlborough Chelsea

The most dramatic sculpture in the show is a chain-link fence, distorted at several points until it seems to tumble like a windblown tissue.  To produce the sculpture, Lazzarini’s studio used 3D modeling and printing to create a prototype, then cast the piece in sections.  Assistants welded the pieces together and a specialist handpainted the surface to make it appear rusted and weathered.  This chain-link fence has a particular phenomenological proximity to its “keep out” counterpart in reality.  That is, it seems like a fence that Lazzarini actually mangled, rather than a faithful copy.  Along with sharp points and menacing barbed wire, its illusory familiarity makes it a brooding, hostile piece – but it is funny, too.  It sways and leans like a drunk, as if a Richard Serra monument’s bad little cousin had too much Four Loko in the parking lot.

Robert Lazzarini's chain-link fence at Marlborough Chelsea

Compared to Lazzarini’s prior repertoire of serial vanitas objects – guns, knives, skulls –  this show of verb-driven objects feels more like a sequence of events.  However, Lazzarini denies a narrative connection.  “Viewers are absolutely going to try to create some sort of story line between the objects,” he says, “and there just isn’t one. This is a disjointed, fractured scene.”  For me, there’s no need to struggle between the artist’s authority and a viewer’s demand for a story.  The potential for narrative adds another dimension to sculpture that mutates as we walk around it.   If a provocative artist can’t ward off the dark glamor and rich meaning of crime imagery, then an inquiring viewer can’t help but wonder about a sculpture with crime scene elements.

 

From this angle, it looks like a map

Nu MUSEO

Thursday, July 16th, 2009
KS: I’m struck by your commitment to rendering blood on the print exactly the way blood would spurt, or in the case of the vinyl floor piece, as if a body has been dragged across it. And in fact, a body will be literally dragged across it.
That’s Katie Sonnenborn talking to RObert Lazzarini in the new issue of MUSEO about his new bloodstained wallpaper prints.  The prints are the result of Lazzarini’s visual arts fellowship at the Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University.  “The deathly object is something that I think about quite a lot,” he says.  Katie asks him about this preoccupation, but Lazzarini seems more interested in formal issues.  That’s fine, for now.  It is interesting to hear him explain the decisions behind his current show at the Aldrich Museum.
We also get great interviews with Shana Moulton, and with Roxy Paine, whose giant aluminum environmental sculptures must have a great tan after laying out in Madison Square Park, and then migrating to the roof at the Met.
And the great innovation of the new MUSEO is a site-specific project curated by the marvelous Timothy Hull, artist and egyptologist, and MUSEO honcho David Shapiro.  From the curators:
“For this project, artists were asked to create “screen captures” of images using their desk-top as a substrate. It is reasonable to assume that many artists have multiple folders, images, screen wallpapers and open windows on their desktop at any given time. These ephemera of the desktop can either be functional, aesthetic, or both- constantly changing and shifting in meaning and intent as well as position. The screen capture (screen cap) is a tableau of a particular moment in time- on a very private medium: the personal computer. The purpose of this project is to either gain insight into the private, ad-hoc composition of a desktop or to push the boundaries of the discursive arrangement of images and other digital ephemera on the desktop as composed specifically by the artist.”
Fifteen artists submitted screenshots of their computers.  We get behind the scenes to see layers of windows, desktop backgrounds, google search results, and dazzling Photoshop abstractions.
Are they photographs?  But there is no object for light to sculpt.  Collage?  They are layered, but “collage” is etymologically obligated to pasting or gluing, neither of which happened here.  Maybe performance?  Process?  I like Devon Costello’s ersatz Kandinskys, Robert Melee’s couch potato, and Jimmy Joe Roche’s multimedia terrordome.

Robert Longo, The Ascension (for Glenn Branca album), 1981
Robert Longo, The Ascension (for Glenn Branca album), 1981

KS: I’m struck by your commitment to rendering blood on the print exactly the way blood would spurt, or in the case of the vinyl floor piece, as if a body has been dragged across it. And in fact, a body will be literally dragged across it.

Robert Lazzarini, blood on wallpaper (blue gingham), 2008
Robert Lazzarini, blood on wallpaper (blue gingham), 2008

That’s Katie Sonnenborn talking to Robert Lazzarini in the new issue of MUSEO about his new bloodstained wallpaper prints.  He made them during his visual arts fellowship at the Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University.

“The deathly object is something that I think about quite a lot,” he says.  Katie asks him about this preoccupation, but Lazzarini seems more interested in formal issues.  That’s fine, for now.  It is interesting to hear him explain the decisions behind his recent exhibition at the Aldrich Museum, called Guns and Knives.

We also get great interviews with Shana Moulton, and with Roxy Paine, whose giant aluminum environmental sculptures must have a great tan after laying out in Madison Square Park, and then migrating to the roof at the Met.  Check out Maelstrom.

And the great innovation of the new MUSEO is a site-specific project for the MUSEO website.  Open Apple Shift 3 is curated by the marvelous Timothy Hull, artist and egyptologist, and MUSEO honcho David Shapiro.  From the curators:

“For this project, artists were asked to create “screen captures” of images using their desk-top as a substrate. It is reasonable to assume that many artists have multiple folders, images, screen wallpapers and open windows on their desktop at any given time. These ephemera of the desktop can either be functional, aesthetic, or both- constantly changing and shifting in meaning and intent as well as position. The screen capture (screen cap) is a tableau of a particular moment in time- on a very private medium: the personal computer. The purpose of this project is to either gain insight into the private, ad-hoc composition of a desktop or to push the boundaries of the discursive arrangement of images and other digital ephemera on the desktop as composed specifically by the artist.”

Screen capture by Robert Melee
Screen capture by Robert Melee

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Fifteen artists submitted screenshots of their computers.  We get behind the scenes to see layers of windows, desktop backgrounds, google search results, and dazzling Photoshop abstractions.

Screen capture by Ben Weiner
Screen capture by Ben Weiner

Are they photographs?  But there is no object for light to sculpt.  Collage?  They are layered, but “collage” is etymologically obligated to pasting or gluing, neither of which happened here.  Maybe performance?  Process?  I like Devon Costello’s ersatz Kandinskys, Robert Melee’s couch potato, and Jimmy Joe Roche’s multimedia terrordome.

KITT to the rescue
KITT to the rescue