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Hobson’s Choice – Josiah McElheny, Interactions of the Abstract Body, at White Cube

7 December 2012 By
Josiah McElheny, Interactions of the Abstract Body, White Cube Mason's Yard, London (16 November 2012 - 12 January 2013), © Josiah McElheny. Photo: Hugo Glendinning, Courtesy White Cube
Josiah McElheny, Interactions of the Abstract Body, White Cube Mason's Yard, London (16 November 2012 - 12 January 2013), © Josiah McElheny. Photo: Hugo Glendinning, Courtesy White Cube

16 November – 12 January 2013

25-26 Mason’s Yard, London SW1Y 6BU

whitecube.com

Open Tuesday – Saturday 10am-6pm (closed 23 December – 1 January)

Visiting galleries with some friends last weekend, we enjoyed an interesting show at White Cube Mason’s Yard in St James by American artist, Josiah McElheny.  The show distills some of the ways in which ideas around fashion, the body and performance have been influential in recent years on sculpture and installation.  The ground floor gallery brings together five structures that combine cedar and glass vitrines containing hand blown and carved grey moir glass pieces on metal supports that are human in scale and relate to the body.  Each glass assemblage is based on designs or templates by a range of different artists and designers from the twentieth century with titles such as The Space Age Body (after Cardin, Courreges and Gernreich) and The Uniform Body (after Popova and Rodchenko).  In essence, each work acts as an interpretative model, a structure that reveals a range of potential culture forces and historical interpretations of the human body. These works choreograph the viewer to walk around them and since the glass forms are finely striped and have circles and squares cut from them like clothing patterns, they have a kinetic aspect, seeming to twist and turn as the viewer circles each piece.  Downstairs, a series of wooden mirrored sculptures – circles, squares and triangles – are worn as costumes by performers from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire, moving in sequences devised by the artist.  Artworks become props and visitors become performers in the space, implicated within the mirrored sculptural surfaces and forming an integral and shifting part of the conceptual conditions of the exhibition, reflected and refracted through multiple reflective surfaces as the performers traffic through the gallery.  This multi-layering within the space continues via a series of flat transparent reliefs on the walls, based on designs by Sonia Delaunay and Varvara Stepanova, which again feel like patterns or templates for clothing.   If you can, go on a Saturday when all eight works downstairs will be in motion!