Hobson’s Choice: Sara VanDerBeek at The Approach

1 June 2012 By
Hobson's Choice: Sara VanDerBeek at The Approach

Paul Hobson, Director of the Contemporary Art Society, recommends his favourite exhibition of the week.

24 May – 24 June 2012

1st Floor, 47 Approach Road
Bethnal Green, London E2 9LY


Open Wednesday – Sunday, 12.00 – 18.00 or by appointment

The approach in Bethnal Green has just opened an elegantly staged new show by American artist Sara VanDerBeek, whose practice explores the relationship between photography and sculpture.  To date, this has taken the form of creating temporary sculptures in which she incorporates images from a diverse range of sources – art history books, archives, magazines, newspapers – before photographing them and then dismantling the sculpture, with the photograph being the only remaining evidence of the temporary structure.  Marking a recent shift in the artist’s practice, this exhibition brings together both sculptures and photographs in carefully choreographed dialogue with each other.  This new exhibition emerges from VanDerBeek’s collaboration with dancers in her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, where she worked with them on the actions and phrases of certain improvised dances, directing them to explore lines and angles, before choreographing and capturing selected movements as photographs.   The configuration of form and pattern within each sculptural work, and their arrangement throughout the gallery space, creates a direct relationship to the form and rhythm of the dancer’s bodies in the photographs.   The photographs are beautiful in a conventional way – black and white images of dancers with heightened shadows to strengthen the formal and compositional angles echoed in the sculptures – whereas the sculptures reference the serial and classical formats of Carl Andre, Donald Judd and Sol Le Witt.  If Minimalism was born of an intention to remove the physical and expressive presence of the artist in favor of the procedural and conceptual, these sculptures show the potential of gesture and performance to generate another version of events.  Well worth a visit.

Image: Sara VanDerBeek, installation view, courtesy The approach

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