Artist: Alice Channer
Venue: Lisa Cooley, New York
Exhibition Title: Cold Blood
Date: November 11 – December 23, 2012
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Lisa Cooley, New York
Alice Channer’s work traces the disappearance, mutation, and possible evolution of a body and of materials in post-industrial environments. Her works are made up of flat surfaces that she pleats, curves, stretches, expands and contracts to explore sculptural concerns of volume, dimension and weight. By treating the surfaces, materials and processes that make up our post-industrial environment in this way, she asks what it is to be embodied in relation to these flat places, be these technological, industrial, virtual or commercial.
Cold Blood is a new body of work that uses stainless steel, silk, aluminium, Spandex, bronze, polyurethane resin and Pantene Pro-V shampoo and conditioner as strange, seductive, toxic, industrial and post-industrial liquids that clot, thin, coagulate, cool, melt, heat and solidify within the time and place of an exhibition. The works in the exhibition consider anthropomorphism in objects, and ask why the figurative should necessarily imply a human figure. To conceive of the many different objects that make up the exhibition as cold-blooded, sentient entities is a way to imagine their strangeness, otherness and their independent life.
Central to the exhibition is a long, low, horizontal two-part sculpture that stretches across the gallery floor. Backbone translates dimensions from human clothing and from drawings of stylized human poses into non-human materials – curved, chromed aluminium bars, cast translucent pigmented polyurethane resin and cast aluminium. The static parts of these works attempt an awkward, elegant movement across the gallery floor, deliberately confusing animate and inanimate matter. Together with the other works in the exhibition, Backbone sets up a linear, evolutionary movement across the gallery.
While Backbone stretches the gallery horizontally, Primordial Fluids elongates the room vertically. These works consist of two tall white classical columns that pour down from the gallery ceiling onto the floor, as if in memory of their former life as liquids. The long white columns consist of violently stretched and elongated digitally printed images taken from photographs of the sides of bottles of Pantene Pro-V shampoo and conditioner. These images are digitally printed onto heavy crepe de chine, using a printing process usually employed by fashion designers to create bespoke dressmaking fabrics. The images layer three-dimensional objects at radically different scales to create an illusion of sculptural depth in a work that is very flat.
Tectonic Plates curves flat surfaces into volume. The dimensions of this work originate from an approximate, flattened, reclining, elongated human body, whose curves have been translated into sheet metal. Onto and into the curves of the steel sit bronze and aluminium casts of fingers, with machine-cut notches that slot onto the smooth edge of the sheet metal. The dark gray lacquer on the nails of several of the casts was applied at a manicure bar nearby the gallery. Two different kinds of scale are brought together in this work – the small-scale detail of a perfect manicure is placed carefully over that of the massive tectonic plates that make up the moving surface of the planet earth, and the sentience of nature itself.
Both Tectonic Plates and Fingers in my Eyes use bronze and aluminium casts taken from fingers. Some of these casts have been taken from 3-D prints of fingers stretched and elongated beyond their usual length. In these casts, fingers have been pushed through virtual space, and then back through molten metal before solidifying in order to be exhibited.
A microphone has been implanted just beyond the first turn of your right ear canal takes its title from Jennifer Egan’s short story Black Box. Originally published in the form of successive 140 character tweets on the New Yorker website, Egan’s narrative considers the human body of its protagonist, a female spy, as a kind of black box for passively recording information. As the story progresses, the spy subtly and awkwardly implements different technological devices implanted in her body to record information to be used in counter-terrorism operations. The model of subjectivity that Egan’s story outlines provides a parallel for the kind of artistic authorship proposed within Cold Blood, which Channer describes as being “authored by many different beings, only one of which is me.”
MAR108 and MAH684G begin with an absent human or non-human body. These works use translucent resin casts taken from Topshop stretch maxi-skirts. Whilst the resin is still pliable and semi-liquid, it is curved around limbs dismembered from shop mannequins that have been attached to the studio wall. The final works take their shape from these absent surrogate human limbs, and their titles from the stock codes of the absent mannequins whose poses they assume.
Gills considers sentient non-human life forms, attempting to provide the walls of the gallery with the apparatus to breathe underwater. Cold aluminium curves along stretched lines originally drawn by Yves Saint Laurent in sketches of his Le Smoking suits. Spandex printed with a massively distorted image of Channer’s arm then stretches around the curves. In this way, a human arm is stretched to the non-human length of the gallery.
Like Gills, all of the works in Cold Blood are both awkward and elegant. They attempt to breathe, opening and closing as they are moved around, through and with.