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Art

Hundreds of Melting Ice Figures Echo the Intensifying Threat of the Climate Crisis in Néle Azevedo’s Public Works

May 23, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Minimum Monument” (2014), Lima. All images © Néle Azevedo, shared with permission

Ephemerality has always been at the center of Néle Azevedo’s practice. The Brazilian artist is known globally for “Minimum Monument,” a collection of small ice figures that melt in situ.

First exhibited in São Paulo in 2005, the installation, which Azevedo dubs an “urban art action,” has found its way to cities like Paris, Belfast, Lima, and Porto. In each iteration, the artist carves hundreds of 20-centimeter-tall figures seated with their ankles crossed and places them atop outdoor steps and in public spaces. The faceless sculptures drip and pool into small puddles as time passes, which initially was Azevedo’s way of critiquing public monuments and taking “into account the history of the defeated, the anonymous, to bring to light our mortal condition.” The impermanence of the frozen substance directly contrasts the enduring nature of bronze, stone, and other materials typically used for statues and commemorative works.

 

“Minimum Monument” (2005), São Paulo. Photo © Marcos Gorgatti

With the intensifying climate crisis, though, the piece has acquired new meaning as a literal reflection of global warming and the way life will soon disappear from the planet. A statement about the decades-long project explains:

This urgency requires a paradigm shift in the development of governments of all nations to think of another model of development outside the current level of consumption. These threats also finally put Western man in his place, his fate is along with the destiny of the planet, he is not the “king” of nature, but a constituent element of it. We are nature.

A successor to “Minimum Monument,” Azevedo’s “Suspended State” (shown below) similarly gathers more than 1,000 ice figures and dangles them over pots, bowls, and other kitchenware equipped with microphones. “The sound is very important because it invokes that disappearance,” the artist tells Great Big Story. “The melting sculptures (create) a connection between a subjective self and a collective consciousness.”

Explore an archive of Azevedo’s works, including images of multiple iterations of “Minimum Monument,” on her site, and follow news about upcoming exhibitions and projects on Instagram.

 

“Minimum Monument” (2020), Rome. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2009), Berlin. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2016), São Paulo. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2020), Rome. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2020), Rome. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Suspended State,” São Paulo. Photo © Edouard Fraipont

“Suspended State,” São Paulo. Photo © Edouard Fraipont

 

 

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Art

In ‘Forothermore,’ Artist Nick Cave Harnesses the Power of Beauty and Art to Inspire Change

May 17, 2022

Grace Ebert

Soundsuits. All photos by Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago, shared with permission

From floral Soundsuits and found-object sculptures to a multicolor web of millions of pony beads, Forothermore surveys the 30-plus-year career of artist Nick Cave. The retrospective, which draws its name from “forevermore” and “for others,” opened last week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and captures both the evolution and mainstays of the artist’s practice. Cave spoke with Colossal in an interview ahead of the show, saying, “Why now, why now this moment, why this exhibition, why this survey, and who is it for? Once I removed myself from it, I realized that it’s not for me. It really allowed me to take a course of action in terms of that movement and what will this look like, looking at three and a half decades of work.”

Arranged thematically rather than chronologically, the exhibition opens with an iteration of the metallic wind spinners that were part of Cave’s 2017 show at MASS MoCA. Guns, bullets, and teardrops are embedded in some of the kinetic pieces that hang alongside smiling faces and peace signs. These sinister symbols pervade the suspended installation, which considers how a desire to only see beauty can mask painful, life-threatening issues.

 

Detail of “Spinner Forest”

Heavily patterned vinyl wallpaper designed in collaboration with Cave’s partner Bob Faust runs through much of the show and creates a textured backdrop for the artist’s mixed-media assemblages of kitsch figurines, vintage furniture, and other trinkets. Dozens of his signature Soundsuits stand inside the fourth-floor gallery, including the mournful piece veiled in 929 black flowers that was created in response to George Floyd’s murder. Wall sculptures made of items sourced from flea markets—these include rusted tools, dominos, wooden boards, button-up shirts, and glittering orbs—date back to the 90s and surround the vibrant, armor-like costumes.

Cave created the first Soundsuit following Rodney King’s beating in 1991, and he’s never wavered from confronting racism in his works. “As I’m trying to imagine other ways of thinking and making, I’m constantly being brought back to this, unfortunately,” he says. The exhibition also includes a collection of bronze arms cradling sprawling, metallic bouquets with hands often clenched and raised in a fist, a reference to strength and solidarity in the face of rampant injustice.

Forothermore is on view in Chicago through October 2, when it will travel to the Guggenheim in New York City for an exhibition opening on November 18. You can read the full interview with Cave here, and find more from the artist on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Photography

PRIME: A Behemoth New Book Surveys A Broad Segment of Millennial Artists Working Today

May 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

Tau Lewis. All images courtesy of Phaidon, shared with permission

Across nearly 450 pages, PRIME: Art’s Next Generation offers a broad and insightful survey of the Millenials defining the future of the art world. As its title suggests, the massive tome is a primer on the innovative, subversive, and category-defying works that are captivating curators and art professionals. The volume is collated based on time period alone, bringing together more than 100 international artists working across mediums who were born between 1980 and 1995—this includes  Jordan Casteel, Tau Lewis (previously), and Firelei Báez (previously)—in a look at what’s emerged from a cultural and creative landscape shaped by the internet and increasing connectivity. PRIME will be released on May 25 and is available for pre-order on Phaidon and Bookshop.

 

Firelei Báez

Amoako Boafo

Buhlebezwe Siwani

Evan Ifekoya

Louia Fratino

Martine Gutierrez

 

 



Art

Interview: Nick Cave Unpacks Silence and Compassion Ahead of His First Retrospective at Chicago’s MCA

May 11, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Speak Louder” (2011), mixed media including black mother-of-pearl buttons, embroidery floss, upholstery, metal armature, and mannequins, 93 ½ × 199 × 123 inches. Photo by James Prinz Photography, © Nick Cave, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

A portmanteau of forevermore and for others, Forothermore is a prescient title for the first retrospective of artist Nick Cave opening this week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Cave discusses the career-spanning exhibition in a new interview supported by Colossal Members, starting with his Soundsuits, the captivating costumes of color and fur that are likely his most recognizable pieces. His work consistently confronts racism, homophobia, and other bigotries through the alluring, affecting power of art.

I have to think about the journey and how I get your willingness to explore and go with me. I’m always thinking about ways into the work. Once you’re in, then I tell you what is the root of the work, where is it grounded. At that moment, you have to make that decision. Do I shy away from that and consume myself with the beauty? Beauty for me is optimism. It is the future. It’s me colliding these two forces together and challenging myself, as well as the viewer, to start to dissect, to start to expand on the narrative, to talk about what they’re emotionally feeling and connecting with.

In this conversation, Cave explains how amassing three and a half decades of work in one space has been an enlightening process. He generously shares that he’s no longer allowing tragedy to function as a directive, that his devotion to silence is an essential part of his practice, and that committing 100 percent has the power to produce awe-inspiring results. Read the interview.

 

“Wall Relief” (2013), mixed media including ceramic birds, metal flowers, afghans, strung beads, crystals and antique gramophone, four panels, each 97 x 74 x 21 inches. Photo © Nick Cave, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

 

 



Art

Bizarre Installations and Figurative Sculptures by Mark Jenkins Upend Notions of Reality

May 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Mark Jenkins, shared with permission

“I think my art is at its best when it’s subconscious-driven,” says Mark Jenkins. Veering from the witty and absurd to the disorienting and bizarre, Jenkins’ body of work confronts perceptions of reality through the surreal: a life-sized figure climbs a fire escape upside down, limp legs hang from a dumpster, and toast springs up from a sewer grate.

Whether installed in alleys and urban areas or within the stark, white space of a gallery, Jenkins’ sculptures are theatrical and logic-defying, and each piece mimics “life to the point where it becomes real, to me,” he shares. “Creating an alternative reality has been the solution for my mental health. I find reality a bit depressing with death and all, politics, war, celebrities, etc., and that all the stars are so far away we can never really get to know the universe.”

Jenkins is currently working in Los Angeles and soon headed to Le Havre, France, for his next project. You can follow his practice and explore an expansive archive of his sculptures on his site and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

A Chromatic Installation by Felipe Pantone Turns a Public Walkway into an Architectural Kaleidoscope

May 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

Photo by Matt Alexander. All images © Felipe Pantone, shared with permission

Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone (previously) magnifies the prismatic principles that ground his Subtractive Variability series to a phenomenal scale in the newly installed “Quick Tide.” Whether working in kinetic sculpture or large-scale murals, Pantone investigates the vast realm of color theory and its bottomless potential, in this instance transforming the cyan, magenta, and yellow model into a dynamic display. “The idea of creating a system in which I can create endless color combinations within the visible color spectrum by simply rotating or displacing the same image over and over (in C, M, Y)… the results are always random, unexpected, yet always interesting for me,” Pantone tells Colossal.

The site-specific “Quick Tide” wraps the upper and lower levels of an elevated walkway in London’s Greenwich Peninsula with a vibrant collision of light and pigment—see Liz West’s transformation of the same outdoor space previously on Colossal. Angled blocks hold radial gradients to “make obvious where the different colors overlap and how different hues appear. These details are usually easy to find as chromatic aberrations in prints by looking under the magnifier,” the artist shares, noting that the combinations shift in appearance depending on the time of day and position of the viewer.

Pantone will soon open a solo show titled Manipulable at Tokyo’s Gallery COMMON that invites visitors to interact with the works, and you can follow updates on that exhibition and new works on Instagram.

 

Photo by Charles Emerson

Photo by Charles Emerson

Photo by Charles Emerson

Photo by Matt Alexander

Photo by Charles Emerson

Photo by Matt Alexander

Photo by Matt Alexander