David Zwirner’s summer group exhibition, This Is Not a Prop brings together aesthetically slick and conceptually witty works by an intergenerational group of artists working in a variety of media. The thread weaving through the show is questioning of bodies’ relationship to objects, both in harmony and discord, as most vividly manifested in two Franz West sculptures from the ‘90s spearheading the exhibition.
In Passstücke (mit Video mit Verwendungstipps), the audience is invited to activate the work by playing with two papier-mâché sticks in front of a tubed-TV running a performance of the same task. The decision to mimic the performance or to improvise is left to the participant. 2625, by contrast requires less action from the audience, asking them to perch on two chairs located on both sides of a papier-mâché cube sculpture suspended from the ceiling.
This sense of interaction and activation runs across generations, with more recent work coming from Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s archival pigment print photographs about seeing and being seen, a body of work that encapsulates the models’ relationship with the camera lens as a sensual and reciprocal affair, completing the roles of the gazer and the gazed. Hannah Levy, by contrast, also stands out with her eerie sculptures in which objects put on corporal qualities with the artist’s attribution of skin-like quality to rubber. Her piece in the show, Untitled, sees a large scale sculpture in which a sense of innocent domesticity is complicated by its spidery steel legs.
In Levy’s other sculpture, blown-up asparagus made out of steel reclines and curves akin to a dead body. A signature Donald Moffett painting, by contrast of a fuzzy orifice protruding from the wall contributes to the exhibition’s prevalent themes of tactility and gesture, while Gordon Hall’s cast pigmented concrete sculptures occupy an entire room with their almost familiar bodily formations, Alex da Corte’s 13-minute film Slow Graffiti shows the artist putting on a Frankenstein make up and engaging with various objects, ranging from bread to brooms, in bizarre ways.
Throughout, the density of the large-scale, three dimensional works at the main gallery functions as an advantage rather than a downside, underlining the exhibition’s aim to stimulate our bodies’ exchange with materials on the backdrop of a consumerist order.
This Is Not a Prop is on view at David Zwirner through August 3, 2018.
— O.C. Yerebakan
David Zwirner [Exhibition Page]