Like gaunt, filmy stalactites, bunches of cutout prints depicting heavy-duty electrical cable issue from pipes and vents along the heating ducts that cling to the ceiling. Not simply incorporating and responding to the given elements of the gallery’s architecture, the printed images of urban sundries, cityscape fragments, and techno-junk that lurk throughout Nicola López’s sprawling installation entitled Vertigo hemorrhage from the ceiling and collect in puddles on the floor, blanketing the walls as well like slimy post-industrial moss. Among the generic electrical bric-a-brac woven into the strands of wiring, there are also prints of satellite dishes and truck tires. On the walls, dense groups of images ranging from steel towers and high-rise office buildings to hillside shanties nearly engulf the big chunky truck tires like quicksand. Prominently sited by the gallery’s entrance is a strange bulbous mass of technology wrapped in thick cables. Like some mechanized cognate of Gulliver, this imminent, unstable entity has been cautiously tied down. The product of the artist’s wary yet meticulous design, Vertigo amounts to an elaborate mural depicting an ineluctable and defiling urbanization, within which is couched a sensitive affinity for graphic representation.
López’s installation constructs a sober vision of a conflicted visual field. There is an incredible material density achieved by the various yet repetitive vocabulary of prints arranged and presented in innumerable permutations across the walls. Symbols of habitation, transport and communication—the underpinnings of urban life—are so thoroughly compressed that they dissolve into an anonymous schematic residue. The artist has used dozens of map tacks to keep the precarious structure intact, an allusion to cartography that resurfaces more explicitly in her drawings. However many intricacies there are to relish in the piece, however appealing the benign cartoons, the promise of urban life expected from consolidation and centralization appears destabilized and uncertain. Metallic bronze and burnt orange clouds rise from cooling towers and smoke stacks; the silhouettes of oil derricks and pools of spilled black oil coagulate on the flooded cityscape in “Strange Skies,” another mixed-media collage tacked to the rear wall of the gallery. Again, the land is ravaged. Birds do not fly here; instead fighter jets seize the air, swooping like buzzards over the expanse.
The five illustrations accompanying the installation are born out of a methodology where arrangements and concentrations of imagery are subjected to optical tropes and fluctuations in orientation. What results is a graphic reflection of the jarring experience of encountering urban space. Looping highway interchanges, city grids, and meandering railroad tracks contort and deform under a tornado of unseen forces. Spurning their regulatory thrust, the artist co-opts these structures into her game. They become the architectonics of a tear in space; a singularity towards which are inevitably drawn smoking factories, stacks of television sets, satellite dishes, and radio towers.
Among these fantastically apocalyptic visions, entrenched contemporary detritus, and juxtapositions of urban banality, there are moments of elusive truth as well. Though presumably distilled from experiencing urban spaces directly, the imagery favors the generic through reductive design, appearing more metaphorical than objective. In spite of this tendency towards stock depiction, a rather accurate glimpse at the precarious networks of communication still rises from the absurdly jumbled mess of cables and microwave dishes. And when considering on what shaky ground our precious lines of telecommunication rest, this delicate and elusive message seems all the more clear and authentic.
Anna Uddenberg: Continental BreakfastBy Hannah Sage Kay
APRIL 2023 | ArtSeen
Descending the stairs and dirty brown hallway to the two-room Upper East Side basement dwelling that is Meredith Rosen Gallery engenders an air of willing abjection before even entering Anna Uddenbergs solo exhibition, Continental Breakfast, that features three pseudo-functional contraptions in a white-walled, blue-carpeted, drop ceiling-adorned space with florescent lights that feels like the prelude to a high-class murder.
35. February 11, 1963, 23 Fitzroy Road and 3 Abbey Road, LondonBy Raphael Rubinstein
DEC 22–JAN 23 | The Miraculous
Its the nations coldest winter in more than 200 years. Much of the country is covered in snow from December until March. Everything freezes, from water pipes to monumental fountains to streams and rivers. Travel is disrupted, food stocks begin to run low, a regional newspaper reports with dismay that two swans have been found frozen to death on a nearby river.
Walter De Maria: Boxes for Meaningless WorkBy Amanda Gluibizzi
MARCH 2023 | ArtSeen
Just as youre about to step into Walter De Maria: Boxes for Meaningless Work, you might notice a short, high-pitched sound underlying the other noises that occupy museum galleries. Its the chirping of crickets, and because it emanates from a speaker hung near the ceiling, it seems to envelop the vestibule, both placeable and unlocatable.
Cecilia Vicuña with Suzanne Herrera
JUL-AUG 2022 | Art
Hilo de agua, hilo de vida, hilo de voz: These threadsand others nearbyweave together Cecilia Vicuñas five-decades long artistic, poetic, and politically engaged practices. At the artists current exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum slender threads and wire drape thirty feet from the ceiling. Loose assemblages of translucent fabrics and small objects float in near-suspension, moving slightly with the flows of air and peoples movements in the room. This installation, Quipu del exterminio / Extermination Quipu (2022) reflects on environmental and cultural violence, survivals, and vibrancies.