Occupying both the Grand Avenue and the Geffen Contemporary spaces at MOCA, Swiss-born, New York based artist Urs Fischer presents his first U.S. retrospective, culling from his diverse and unique body of work to fill both spaces with an overwhelming display of sculptural pieces and grandiose immersive environments.
In MOCA’s Grand Avenue space, Fischer has exhibited a collection of his works from the past 16 years. Sculptures, collages and installations oscillate between messy and destructive or pristine and formulated. Visual tension between crude kitschy objects and industrially fabricated works are underscored with a playful sense of irony and destruction, showcasing the artist’s dadaist approach to semiotic interplay and irreverent commentary.
Throughout the exhibition, familiar images are twisted into new and uncanny forms. A hodgepodge of mundane objects like alarm clocks, clothes pins, dollar bills, are blown up digitally and printed on each side of mirrored squares, fragmented and flattened in a series of dizzying, knee-high pop sculptures. Objects often take on an air of whimsy, with oversized fried eggs, jumbo caricatures of raindrops frozen in space, a contorted aluminum bed tinted like an Easter egg and a life sized Swiss chalet made entirely out of stale and crumbling bread are all on view, creating an otherworldly environment that confronts the viewer with peculiar juxtapositions of banal objects rendered into bizarre new assemblages.
In an act of defiance, giant holes are also cut through the gallery walls, turning the exhibition inward on itself to subvert the politics of the gallery wall. Titled “Portrait of a Single Raindrop,” the gesture is a literal jab at the walls of the museum. These giant chasms appear throughout the show, stacking the visual elements of separate rooms on top of each other, and causing an overload of visual information.
This rebellious position is reiterated with Untitled, which covers the entire exhibition floor in jagged black vinyl, creating a raw and undulating backdrop for the work. While these two situations framing the show are effective, the works within are somewhat hollow, creating a dissonance that confronts the viewer and encourages extended reflection.
Down the street at the Geffen Contemporary, Fischer turns his attentions to capturing a messy free-for-all of artistic production. For this space, the artist orchestrated a massive, collaborative sculptural project, involving some 1,500 volunteers that were invited to come to the space and create figurative sculptures out of clay over a four-week period before the show. The result is a lively dumpster of human creation, and a visual cacophony of unfired clay sculptures of every skill level, suitably titled YES. His work is an intriguing, democratic approach to the retrospective, once again breaking down his own artistic aura on a major national platform, and using that same reputation to open the door to large-scale public creativity. A number of pristine wax candle sculptures made by Fisher punctuate the maze of surrounding monochrome chaos, which will burn throughout the run of the exhibition, concluding in a melted wax pile among the ruins.
Welcoming challenging perspectives on the acts of creation and presentation, Urs Fischer’s retrospective at MOCA is a fascinating introduction to the artist’s work, and an indication of the artist’s subversive talents. His show is on view until August 19th.
|Urs Fischer by Urs Fischer||Oscar the Grouch||Madame Fisscher