“As I create, I meditate, and the lust of acquiring a product is replaced by the love of making it.” So reads a quote by Tom Sachs as the intro to his most recent exhibition of works at Thaddaeus Ropac in London. Ritual, an exhibition of new works never previously seen in the UK, reflects this notion, bringing forth four new sculptures conceived for the exhibition in order to demonstrate the comprehensive spectrum of Sachs’ distinctive sculptural practice. Displayed on bespoke pedestals inspired by modernist shapes, each sculpture is characterized by the same bricolage aesthetic that has long defined the artist’s work, and underscores his unique sense of interrelation with the language of modern urban culture, conceptual assemblage, and the history of the avant-garde. The sculptures bear traces of their making, becoming vehicles for reflection on the creation of value and human labour.
Marking a distinct and direct relationship with urban and consumer culture, the works on view equally posses the formal qualities a more complex art historical narrative, in particular a specific relationship to the work of Brancusi and his fascination with the pedestal as its own participant in the production and framing of a three-dimensional work. In one work, a lowly laundry basket is elevated to the position of high art, while in another, a surveillance camera is posed as an invite to deeper reflection on the tenuous relationship between the public and the private, the intersection of innovation and human industry with the intimacy of domestic life. Sach carefully mines tensions and conflicts of the modern experience in this manner, re-creating their position as a simulated object the emphasizes its place as a simulation.
“Everything in this show has something that is formally prioritized,” says Sachs of the work, “whether it’s a leaf blower, a surveillance camera, a milk crate or Kelly bag. Everything has form, but the objects are selected and presented so that their shapes along with their pedestals engage the viewer in the tradition of modernist sculpture, at eye level on a plateau.”
The exhibition emphasizes the potential for a singular household object to be embedded within a variety of seemingly disparate everyday systems or rituals, a point of consideration and meditation that seems to alternate between disappearance under the artist’s context, and a sudden, front-and-center focus. The show is clearly aware of its context in the white cube within the urban landscape, the outside pulled inwards, yet in a manner that offers a moment of critical distance. Operating within that rift, Sachs allows each work to say its piece on the state of the world outside.
The show closes July 30th.
– C. Rhinehart
Tom Sachs at Thaddaeus Ropac [Exhibition Site]