josiah mcelheny at white cube masons yard

30 November 2012 § Leave a comment

This exhibition is entitled Interactions of the Abstract Body and is where Josiah McElheny apparently explores how ‘constantly shifting forms of fashion can reveal the core beliefs and assumptions of a given era’. Sorry, not here and not for me.

Upstairs cabinets containing rather beautiful and elegant hand-made glass objects crafted after modernist styles are held in vitrines to represent for example The Space-Age Body (2012) or The Uniform Body (2012). These are impressive works individually and collectively within their vitrines.

However, downstairs are eight carefully crafted wooden sandwich-boards with variously shaped mirrors where, according to White Cube, by “combining a continuous flesh-and-blood performance with static sculpture in the same gallery space McElheny radically fractures the distinction between performance and exhibition”.

Sadly I have news for White Cube – it doesn’t, it’s not radical and anyway it has been done many times before. Lots, and better. This is the sort of thing that you wouldn’t have been surprised to see in 1918 Zurich, 1930’s Paris, 1960’s New York or London Art School graduate shows anytime in the last 20 years. Furthermore the ‘constant presence of a performer’ was a solitary embarrassed student who perfunctorily strolled around with a mirrored sandwich-board for a couple of minutes whist we were there. This supposedly created a ‘shifting other-worldy space’. In your dreams.

On the walls are a few flat, shaped reflecting glass shapes ‘based on designs by Delaunay and Stepanova’ (and Homebase), representing strong women, previously often overlooked in the history of art and fashion. True, and in theory the reflected images of modernist mirrored moving shapes I suppose sounds quite elegant. Unfortunately in the large space that is the ‘Lower ground’ (or ‘basement’ to you and I) gallery the reflections are too distant and space to large to create any meaningful reflections or invoke any sort of ‘complex, intangible sense of space’ that the artist/Press release promises.

Interactions of the Abstract Body  is at White Cube Mason’s Yard until 12 January 2013

Images with no figures courtesy of artist and White Cube.

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