Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

I didn't think I would enjoy myself as much as I did at the New Museum. Their Fischer exhibition was unexpected and witty, without being overly contrived. It's on until February, so I hope some of you in the area can get a chance to see it.

Urs Fischer is God—at least in his show at the New Museum. In works sometimes monumental sometimes mundane, he tinkers with perception and elegantly intervenes in playgrounds of his creation. With a deft hand, he wrangles awe—and guffaws—from us mere mortals in attendance.

Silver-gray boulders twist and writhe on the fourth floor. These vaguely anthropomorphic sculptures began life as fist-sized pieces of clay crushed by Fischer’s hands then enlarged fifty times and cast in aluminum. Enthralled by their scale, we feel diminished in comparison—until large fingerprints come into focus reminding us of the artist’s intervention.

Though Fischer hasn’t moved heaven and earth, he comes precipitously close with Last Call Lascaux on the third floor. If you don’t look up, you’ll miss it. Lowering the ceiling by two feet, Fischer wallpapers the whole space with a photograph image of itself. The joke is on you and the laser-activated plastic tongue blowing raspberries from one wall won’t let you forget it.

Feet finally meet ground on the second floor with Service à la française. Compared with the heights of glory and comedy Fischer achieves, the second floor feels pedestrian with its tired message of consumerism. Fifty-one human-sized chrome steel boxes bear silkscreen prints of modern desire—cupcakes, Emmental cheese, Balenciaga shoes, to name a few—rendered in Cubist fashion, with one façade revealing only one perspective of the object.

Though perhaps a critique of today’s material culture, Service à la française devolves into a house of mirrors where we irresistibly peer at our image reflected through the crevices of guitars, strappy heels and whatnot. Found conversant with carnal pleasures, Fischer reveals himself to be human after all.

Urs Fischer: Marguerite de Ponty is on view at the New Museum until February 7, 2010.


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