Sarah crowEST, Carolyn Eskdale, Hedwig Houben, Kiron Robinson.
Curator: Melissa Keys
Exhibition dates: 14 November to 14 December 2013
Almost a century since sculpture began to escape the confines of historic forms to become inextricably involved in life, Unsettled Sculpture presents recent works by four contemporary artists that continue this restless and expansive journey. Exploring contingent and critical encounters, Unsettled Sculpture focuses on anxious, humorous and poignant states.
Carolyn Eskdale’s installation envelops the viewer. The finely textured layer of plasticine the artist has pressed onto the gallery wall creates a field and form. Part of the surface has been stained with a fine layer of ash and nearby a photograph of a detail of this surface is presented. Our encounter with the work is carefully orchestrated and its subtle allusions unfold gently. A precisely scaled, intimate space is delineated in a corner of the room close to the fireplace, from where considered interconnections between the architecture, geometries, form, materials and processes may be observed.
Untitled 11.13 operates as a trace of personal and collective memories registered within and beyond the room, and is imbued with delicate layers of association, suggesting spaces and times. Looking closely, the viewer is drawn into intricacies; its sombre grey, ash-dusted surface teems with enigmatic impressions made by the artist’s hand and is both activated and sensitised by these repetitive actions.
In considering the work of Sarah crowEST it is unclear which came first—the artist or the metamorphous forms she attends to. Two of these mysterious globular phenomena appear in this exhibition. Emerging from the self-generating ecosystem of crowEST’s practice, each embodies multiple ongoing material histories, that collapse possible pasts, presents and futures. With eyes but no other recognisable bodily features these contemporary incarnations of primordial life forms exist in active interrelationship with the artist. Drawing on sources as diverse as anime and kitsch, crowEST’s runaway processes of making and re-making reflect eclectic dynamics of improvisation and experimentation, observance and ritual.
Hedwig Houben‘s poignant and absurd Five Possible Lectures on Six Possibilities for a Sculpture is a re-presentation of early performances. Houben’s practice is informed by an insistent deliberation and doubt-riddled examination of the artistic process. Throughout this piece notions of fear and failure, together with ideas of good and bad art are anxiously yet playfully rehearsed. Slipping between the first and third person, the artist episodically discusses and reflects on the possibilities for the persuasiveness, or lack of persuasiveness of form and describes the creative process as a search for ‘an object of the mind’. Proposed sculptures are variously constituted through performance, spoken word, as memory and as song, and are constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed through re-making and re-telling. Houben’s work exists within a destabilised aesthetic analysis that combines self-conscious awareness, the intuitive activity of making, the physical experience of the work and the responses it initiates.
Doubt and failure also pervade Kiron Robinson’s installation. A suite of tightly cropped and curiously composed photographs depict aspects of an anonymous suburban brick house. The scene appears lifeless; it is impossible to see inside the building as its windows reflect blurred impressions of its surrounds. Scattered debris, including torn pieces of cardboard and paper, phantom shapes and free floating forms litter the images, suggesting disorder or imminent rupture. The photographs lack legibility and possess an indeterminate quality that persistently resists a coherent reading. In the disconcerting absence of human activity or narrative elements the works convey a sense of anxiety, heightened by the adjacent attenuated sculptural forms propped precariously between the gallery floor and ceiling. These unstable presences disrupt the gallery space, amplifying the tension and contingency evoked in the photographs.
Unsettled Sculpture presents the work of four distinctive artists who perform, assemble, craft and configure sculptural thinking, remaining cognisant of but unbounded by the legacies and traditions of the form.
Melissa Keys, November, 2013
Hedwig Houben is represented by Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam.