Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts
Through August 31, 2014
It’s ironic that some of the objects most attuned to space in You Are Here, a sharp and often unsettling exhibition, also make minute and intimate references to the body. The show, organized by Worcester’s crackerjack curator of contemporary art, Susan Stoops, examines the body and its boundaries through allusions. Not a single figurative work is on display, but every piece is a stand-in for the figure. That strategy collapses our sense of where the body begins and ends. Consequently, the surrounding space feels tentative and charged.
Annette Lemieux conflates the self and architecture in her teasing sculpture Moveable Obstacle #2, a low platform on casters covered in black roofing tiles. The tiles refer to those on Lemieux’s childhood home; the obstacle embodies any hurdles that hinder our path, which might be easier to move than we anticipate.
In Blue Monday, Jim Lambie takes the most delicate of body parts—eyelashes—and blows them up in bright blue aluminum to the size of a bicycle, suspended by glittery silver chains. It’s an all too human wink, but placed overhead, it dwarfs the viewer and fills the gallery with a flirtatious energy usually reserved for one-on-one exchanges.
by Jim Lambie, 2003. © Jim Lambie.
Image © Worcester Art Museum.
Alice Channer ramps up the tension between body and space with Backbone 1, a series of aluminum and resin forms cast from stirrup pants. Each rises to a hump like a giant inchworm and crawls in a zigzagging line over aluminum rods on the floor. They might be vertebrae, even as they cling to their source as clothing (more echoes of intimacy). Yet their size, their meander, and indeed their humps cast them as impudent, as if they might dart into your path and trip you.
You Are Here triumphs because it slyly dislocates viewers. We don’t know if we’re within or without—or floating somewhere in between.