Throughout the course of her fifty-year career, artist Louise Bourgeois has experimented with a broad span of media, while remaining primarily focused around her foundational sculptural works and works on paper. That broad range of work is offered a new wrinkle in Holograms, a recently concluded exhibition at Cheim & Read that brings together a body of work never been shown in its entirety in the Chelsea exhibition space’s intimate rear gallery. Offering a profound elaboration on the artist’s less-known approaches to her work, the show documents Bourgeois’s dialogue with the New York-based fine arts holographic studio C-Projects, resulting in eight holographic photographs blanketed with an alluring red tone, which granted the artist the potential to orchestrate her contemplative, often surreal techniques in this unexpected, yet fertile, medium.
While diverging from her traditional media, Bourgeois’s presented series does not stray away from her prevailing themes of longing, isolation, loss, and self-discovery. Waiting for their viewers to gaze from a perfect angle, each hologram, appearing at first as a minimal black box, suddenly reveals its three dimensional content, building into a narrative on belonging, memory, and corporeality. Domestic and often nostalgic objects such as chairs, beds, and bell jars, as well as a pair of lovers bathing in a blood-like hue of red, draw on their three-dimensional forms to infuse the images with a commanding presence tat emphasizes both tangibility and fluidity.
Akin to a past memory striving to be remembered, these images briefly appear in their most vivid form, before vanishing back into nothingness as the viewer passes by. While the precision of details apparent in each image stems from the visual clarity a holographic picture can convey, such dream-like fluidity introduced in each work by its unique capacities supplements Bourgeois’s efforts in depicting the ethereality embedded in human experience. These are intimate, ephemeral works that drive the artist’s approach towards the often intangible and psychological landscapes of her life into new territory, one that achieves a physical manifestation rarely present in other media.
Positioned amidst the photographs is a miniature metal bed, devoid of a mattress, and carrying two sets of disembodied legs rendered from the same material. Recalling disjointed legs of a marionette (thanks in part to their puppet-like rendering), these pairs are united by a metal box to emphasize the sculpture’s sexual dynamic, and the disjointed, mechanical analogs it draws from. Within its reserved, yet corporeal presence, the sculpture celebrates the lovers’ unity and copulation as one lies atop the other, even as it emphasizes an alien form in turn. Some of the holograms surrounding them, on the other hand, illustrate their intercourse in different versions as the lovers switch positions.
Drawing on this sense of the memory as an erotic container, and the potential for new forms to capture the artist’s frequently revisited themes, Louise Bourgeois: Holograms closed this past weekend on February 11th.
— O.C. Yerebakan
Louise Bourgeois: Holograms [Exhibition Site]