Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BEAUY: Installation--David Altmejd

The work of Canadian artist David Altmejd is very difficult to describe. His enigmatic pieces consist of large-scale installations that often involve the idea of a vitrine, or a glass display box. Such boxes are usually used in museum settings to display collections of mineral specimens, or perhaps taxidermied birds. With this sort of "cabinet of curiosities" approach, Altmejd uses natural materials in his installations, but these cabinets are puzzling, offering no logic to a coherent "collection" which is clearly not the point. The cases are often enormous and the objects in them are not... leaving lots of space. The objects can be composed of quartz, pyrite, amethyst, sand, resin, thread, metal wire, pins, needles, synthetic hair, glass eyes,chain, bronze, wood, pinecones, burlap, leather, and foam. It is this juxtaposition of natural, uncontrollable, living elements, placed haphazardly and sometimes with a sense of sweeping movement, against the sterilized plexiglass and mirrored plinths that generates a seeming clash of meaning. It suggests the unpredictability and messiness of life captured and frozen just as it is, in the midst of its drive, life force, heartbeat...

Although some pieces can be small to medium sized like the modernist doll house of The Outside, The Inside and the Praying Mantis (fifth image down), some are staggeringly large like The Index, which he assembled in the Canadian Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Bienale (third image down--click for a larger view). It is obvious that the power of his work lies in experiencing it first hand. I would love to see one of his pieces...

David Altmejd at the Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York City:

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