(Un)Common Threads, Part 1

Several current and recent exhibitions have as a common thread the, well, common thread--deconstructed, reconstructed, repurposed and carefully structured.

At the Anton Kern Gallery, Lara Schnitger (through June 20), showed an installation of knee-high hose stretched and knotted into a curtain that both divided and defined the gallery space. Looking at the gallery site, I see that the artist is no stranger to the use and reuse of commonplace materials.

Lara Schnitger at Anton Kern: White Cube Hosiery, 2009, nylon & wood, variable dimensions

At Yvon Lambert, Shinique Smith (Ten Times Myself through July 31), mines what the press release describes as "an autobiographical narrative"." In baling, compressing and amassing fabric as she does, Smith imbues these materials with palpable energy. I don't know her. I don’t know her story, but, man, I feel the a life force emanating from that work.

Above and below: Works by Shinique Smith at Yvon Lambert. No information on gallery website


At Pavel Zoubok, Donna Sharrett (Reverb, through May 23) most certainly mines personal history. Her work is about memory, specifically the memory of her musician brother who died several years ago, but also the nature of memory itself. Exquisitely hand stitched, knotted and pieced, the work incorporates material elements given to her by friends and thus becomes a web of interwoven recollections that extends beyond the artist herself.

(While Reverb is over, Sharret's work is included in Daughters of the Revolution: Women & Collage, which runs through August 14 at the gallery.)


Donna Sharrett at Pavel Zoubok, installation view

Donna Sharrett: The Long Black Veil, 2003-2008, rose petals, handmade rose beads, synthetic hair, guitar-string ball ends, pennies, blue jeans, cotton fabric, rings, bone beads and buttons, synthetic pearls, thread; 36 x 26 inches

Detail below


In the Contemporary Art galleries the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Liza Lou is represented by Continuous Mile, a mile-long coiled rope of white beads that is laid in the form a cylinder. Lou employed a team of beaders from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to do the work. I first saw the sculpture at L&M Arts a few months ago, but since I couldn't photograph the work there, I didn’t write about it. I'm glad for the opportunity to revisit it here. You'll note it's placed near the museum's Damien Hirst sculpture but I must say this work, so simple yet so complex, blows that shark out of the water.

Liza Lou at the Met: Continuous Mile, 2007-2008, glass beads, cotton; loan from the artist, on continuous exhibition at the museum for two years


At the Painting Center, Edward Shalala (Documentary Photographs, through June 20) takes the most minimal of materials, the thread itself, and makes the most fleeting of works, a temporary painting that consists of a continuous length of unraveled-canvas thread which is arranged in an airy coil on the ground. What remains as evidence is a black and white photograph. The work recalls both the manifestly material, Smithson's Spiral Jetty, and the evanescent, Ana Mendiata's spirals gouged into the earth.

Edward Shalala at The Painting Center: untitled, documentary photograph of
raw linen canvas thread painting on basketball court at Sarah Roosevelt Park, New York City; c-print 11 x 14 inches, 2009

We follow the thread from Shalala's solo at the Painting Center to his inclusion in the current group show at the Elizabeth Harris Gallery (By a Thread, through July 24) . That's where's we'll go in the next installment later this week.

Note: Summer hours for many galleries are Mon-Fri. Please check before you go.



Hylla said...

Wish I'd known about that Liza Lou piece at the Met. It's intensely hypnotic. Thanks for the view! Got other pics of it?

Stephanie Sachs said...

You are spot on about the Liza Lou piece next to the Damien Hirst. Could not help but see the shark and notice how worn, wrinkled it looked. It wasn't until I started asking the guard about the maintenance of the shark did I notice the Liza Lou.
It was quiet at first but then had a beautiful impact.

Stephanie Clayton said...

some incredible work here.
Shinique Smith's second piece shown (large fabric bundles) amazes me, the way she's harmonized the blue colors to make a piece that's almost painterly. i wonder what the dimensions are, and what the other side of it looks like.

Joanne Mattera said...

I do have a few other pics of the Liza Lou pieces, but that was the best one. There were a lot of people in the gallery the day I was there--a rainy Saturday--so it was hard to shoot. You're seeing the best image. Click on the L&M Arts website to see Lou's September 2008 show. I would have reported on it then, but the gallery doesn't allow photography, and I don't (usually) write about shows that don't extend a photographic courtesy to me. Here's a link:

Stephanie S.,
Yes, that shark is pretty wrinkled--and I believe it's the replacement. Maybe it will turn out to Damien's Dorian Gray portrait?

Stephanie C,
As I recall, the bale was graduated colorwise throughout. I don't have the exact dimensions, but I think it was at least six feet high. There's more work of hers on the Yvon Lambert website.