Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fragility

Ian Kiaer’s art is light, almost insignificant, the materials are grungy, throwaway byproducts of human activity, his sculptures and installations are constructed from the discarded remnants of modern culture, a culture it seems with the attention span of a chimp. Plastic, sheets of foam, polystyrene, cardboard, paper and other such impermanent materials combine with printed matter, adverts cut from their usual context. Printed snatches of lettering on packaging and strings of catalogue numbers and letters represent a now anonymous product. To step into Kiaer’s found and reconstructed world is to see a depressingly mortal culture, in Kiaer’s installations society appears as fragile and impermanent as the world we construct around ourselves.
Kiaer’s current installation at Alison Jacques Gallery is titled Ulchiro project and represents his current observations of the Ulchiro district in Seoul, South Korea.
In the two rooms of the gallery are a collection of assemblages and sculptures which make up the overall installation, in this installation Kiaer’s familiar stylings are developed further, this exhibition appears to be the starting point to the next chapter in his career, the usual transient, insignificant sculptures retain the same lightness of touch as Kiaer’s previous works but this assembled collection of works provides some larger and more ambitious pieces which skilfully retain the lightness evident in his previous work, this step up in scale is deft and subtly reinforces preoccupations in Kiaer’s earlier art works whilst highlighting something new and beyond those earlier concerns. To view the smaller almost minituarised works of previous years allowed the viewer a very personal reflection of their own life and its connection to the outside world, the scale of these pieces felt personal because the scale felt very much that of the human hand, this condition remains with many of the pieces here but with the added shift in scale with two larger pieces we see a scale larger than the human body, these two constructions tower over us and provide the potential to invade our space and create a place in the world alongside us. The first sculptural form we meet on entering the gallery is a large metal frame, sitting like a thin, aluminium framed, skeletal billboard with the boards removed it appears teetering on the brink of failure, its frame is bolted together strongly but due to the lightness of the material the frame may give way to collapse at any time, the second large scale sculpture is constructed from transparent bin liners, separated and then sealed together to create a larger inflatable model, the air pumped into this inflatable structure helps it maintain its large and imposing presence, however one pull of the plug and this overpowering structure will deflate it into a crumpled and lifeless heap of plastic, these assembled combinations of power and fragilty reflect something that can be harmed by us but dictate their presence to us also. Like those things constructed in our environment Kiaer’s latest exhibition shows not only the fragility of the material world we construct around us but also the frailty of our own lives with reliance on and power we imbue in a constructed world created from such impermanent and fragile materials.

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