A group exhibition with the work of Carolnne Achaintre, Hedwig Houben, Emmanuelle Lainé, Robert Orchardson, Jennifer Tee
In an art world of endless possibilities, can we talk about only six possibilities for a sculpture? This exhibition presents the work of five artists who embraces sculpture as an active force rather than static object. The art critic Rosalind Krauss once asked: “How necessary is sculpture to producing the effects of sculpture?” Her 1979 essay Sculpture in the Expanded Field examined the increasingly immaterial practices within the medium. Whilst she would later bemoan the breakdown of distinctions between media, her essay was an important milestone in what became known as the post-medium condition.
The artists included in this exhibition do not limit themselves to working in any one medium, yet they all engage with the practice of sculpture, of giving physical form to their ideas. They embrace the theatricality of sculpture – once maligned as its weakness – and choose to activate their forms in various ways, sometimes even literally putting them on stage. To greater and lesser extent, they are all engaged with questions of making, of process, even of craft. As Eva Grubinger and Jörg Heiser note in their introduction to Sculpture Unlimited (Sternberg Press, 2012), “an interest in the history of sculpture seems to be experiencing a revival, which includes a return to traditional techniques and production methods, and may even appear strangely radical and new in our age of the Internet and simulation.” What strikes me particularly about this return to traditional techniques in the works of the artists presented here is that it is combined with a conceptual savvyness, a lightness of touch, and a generous helping of humour.
Whilst the exhibition is not designed to be about the building that hosts it, it would be disengenous to ignore entirely the heavily laden symbolism of the space. A former Masonic lodge, it has the codes of Freemasonry engrained in its very fabric. The works in the show flirt with the totemic presence of sculpture, with its potential as a ritualistic form. Nevertheless, any rituals that the works may evoke are purely artistic, and function within the realm of contemporary art, a space that allows for great freedom and great possibility.
Curated by Zoë Gray
Zoë Gray is an independent curator based in Brussels. Her recent exhibitions include Wilfrid Almendra: Matériologique at Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard, Paris (2013); Alexandre da Cunha at the Grand Café, Saint-Nazaire (2012); Manufacture (co-curated with Sandra Patron) at CentrePasquArt in Bienne (2012), John Hansard Gallery in Southampton (2011) and Parc Saint Leger in Pougues-les-Eaux (2011); Making is Thinking at Witte de With, Rotterdam (2011), where she worked as a curator from 2006 to the end of 2011; and Cyprien Gaillard: Béton Belvédère at Stroom, The Hague (2009). She is vice-president of IKT (International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art).