Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Nothing Felt

Tonico Lemos Auad’s sculptures, interventions and installations are too fragile, too loose and unformed, one feels that the fragile almost insignificant machinations do not carry enough weight to be considered an art object. It is not that the craft of the art works is in question more that such materials cannot hold our weight of expectations, wishes or desires. Where others see materiality I see disintegration, process is lost in the lightness of touch, and sensuality of materials rendered in the production of the work is lost to a dull aching sense of the insignificant struggling to meet our expectations of significance.
To feel no connection to work of such critical aclaim places a critic in the awkward position of feeling that maybe they “just don’t get it”, maybe the artist wants those of us too invested in the grand gestures of art to rethink the balance of power in art and wider society. The signature piece of this show is a silver scratch card wall with a background of vaguely revealed images of offerings to the Candomble goddess of the sea. It has intimations of the overlapping territories of faith and luck being cultures apart but somehow joining, however it does not insinuate to me the significance of this concept but just appears as an amalgam of multi-cultural graffiti. Visitors have ‘scratched’ but revealed nothing more than a need to make their mark by the opportunity to deface the wall with impunity. If the goddess wishes to help encourage ‘faith’ all we have offered is our disregard of her existence beneath this silver veil and given vent to our selfish need to impose our identity on our surroundings.
Broken silver chains looped from the ceiling and repaired with pieces of thread, two holes punched into the gallery wall and grills inserted that vaguely reveal the content of the shelves of the adjacent gallery office, a boat made from felt or bottles, pots and other vessels also made from felt do not make one think of anything other than the insignificance of such objects rendered in such a way. I am only too aware of the insiginificant and overlooked and Tonico Lemos Auad’s art works do not help me to think beyond that simple premise. To reflect on issues of significance and that which is overlooked should be something with which all of us should engage and reflect on however with this current exhibition in the Stephen Friedman gallery the art works just hold an insiginificant materiality, their stories are hidden and do not impress on this viewer any motivation to engage and remain overlooked. But as I said earlier, maybe I just don’t get it.

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