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Liz Larner creates sculptures for the new era

Liz Larner’s Outstanding Babysitter Survey at SculptureCenter begins with a bang, or several of them: a motorized steel ball, attached to a rotating pole, slams against the gallery wall. The work is called “Corner Basher” and its speed is controlled by the viewer; Turning the dial all the way up results in an increasingly loud noise, and oftentimes, the architecture becomes more and more indented and a joyful sense of passing.

Not everything on the show is as powerful as “Corner Basher” (1988), but other productions also use unused space in seemingly rebellious ways: dense industrial chains curves around the wall in “Wrapped Corner,” for example, or nylon and silk cords extend to the upper part of SculptureCenter’s soaring main gallery in “Bird in Space” (a 1989 piece titled and sleek lines with famous Brancusi sculpture while challenging the whole idea of ​​sculpture as an object on a pedestal).

“Liz Larner: Don’t Put It Back Like It Was” is the artist’s most significant New York show to date and her largest survey since 2001. It goes to Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in April, though it’s hard to imagine a more ideal location for Larner’s diet than SculptureCenter’s gently refurbished old trolley repair shop, with its varied building materials. (from Cor-Ten steel to exposed brick) and the spacious central gallery flanked by more intimate spaces.

Los Angeles-born Larner, living in Sacramento, who has worked and exhibited steadily for three decades, has no recognizable style. Her sculptures and installations range from microscopic to enormous and use materials including plastic, metal, paper, leather, volcanic ash, surgical gauze, and bacteria. Her work can be rough or fine, and sometimes both at the same time, as evidenced by the group of beautiful ceramic wall reliefs with their jagged edges and silky iridescent glaze. It can be abstract or, like the spin-offs to the movie “Hands” (1993), eerie figuratively.

But there are a few lines in this beautiful installation of about 30 works. The most obvious is the hilarious reference to other sculptors, especially post-minimalists like Eva Hesse and Lynda Benglis, but including Louise Bourgeois, David Smith, Cady Noland and Ken Price, in number of others. In “Lash Mat” (1989), Larner glued hundreds of pairs of false eyelashes to a wide strip of skin that ran from wall to floor. It’s impossible to look at this lush shell without thinking of the Surrealist Meret Oppenheim’s feathered teacup, although it can also be seen as a more contemporary feminist critique of the beauty industry. Larner said that she was also thinking of thick rimmed eyes as a signature look by sculptor Louise Nevelson, as well as the rippling patterns in Bridget Riley’s painting”Crest. ”

And in “2 as 3 and Some, Too” (1997-98), the steel frame of two open cubes – a form of association with rigid geometries. Sol LeWitt, among others – seemed to have been mixed together as easily as one might crush a packet of foil candy. Larner wrapped them in sheets of mulberry paper, which she also dyed the watercolor with Easter egg colors. This watch is large, measuring 137 inches at its widest point, yet looks incredibly refined.

Works like these may seem harbinger to the past of sculpture, but Larner has also been thinking deeply about the future of the medium. As this program and its catalog make clear, posthumous theory is as important to her as post-minimalism. In an interview with Walker chief executive Mary Ceruti, who organized the exhibition alongside SculptureCenter interim director Kyle Dancewicz, Larner elaborates on her interpretation of the term ” viewer”: “It can mean an individual or any number of people, possibly even animals, plants, insects or minerals”.

Back in the late 1980s, Larner was experimenting with bacterial cultures – an idea now being explored by a new generation of artists, notably Anika Yi. In a 1987 piece by Larner, which takes the form of two petri dishes displayed under glass, microorganisms that destroy buttermilk, orchid petals, and a coin.

As Larner told Ceruti in their interview, she put a lot of thought into how her art — and all art — would decline over time. “Most artists don’t want their work to disappear, to decompose on its own. But I think this is something that artists, like everyone else, are going to have to start working on,” she said. In one floor sculpture presented last spring at Regen Projects in Los Angeles, will be expanded in an exhibition at Kunsthalle Zurich this summer, Larner created a massive collection of three years’ worth of plastic waste from his household.

While the content of this work was not included in the survey at SculptureCenter, it is hinted at in a string of whimsical pieces created over the past decade and installed in basement galleries like like password. Here, ceramic plates encrusted with minerals and rocks suggest an extraterrestrial landscape, or perhaps a post-Anthropocene view of our planet.

In everything from the rampage slamming wall of Larner’s “Corner Basher” to the rotting orchid petals in her bacterial culture and her ingenious transformation of Brancusi, the exhibit’s subtitle, “Don’t Put It Back Like It Was,” is mind-blowing. “It” can be a gallery space, or a canon of sculpture, or the way we lived before the pandemic, or life on earth.

Liz Larner: Don’t put it back the way it was

Through March 28 at SculptureCenter, 44-19 Purves Street, Long Island City, Queens. 718-361-1750; sculpture-center.org.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/arts/design/liz-larner-sculptures-scuplturecenter.html Liz Larner creates sculptures for the new era

Fry Electronics Team

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