555 W 21st Street
May 7–June 30
In her New York gallery debut, Alicja Kwade presents a fun house of cerebral sculptures that play with and challenge perceptions of space. The artist displayed a similar sleight of hand with her recent commission for Public Art Fund, Against the Run, 2015, a street clock with a backward-revolving face that disorients passersby yet, nevertheless, gives the correct time. Here, Kwade makes efficient
use of sculpted and ready-made materials to construct a series of works that portray objects at an impasse, oscillating between various states of being and meaning.
Three central sculptures—whose titles combine to form the exhibition’s title, “I Rise Again, Changed But the Same”—are arranged like room dividers in a tight cluster. Their steel frames operate as pathways, windows, and mirrors through which a dizzying labyrinth of views is created. In Changed (Fig. II) (all works 2015–16), a double-sided mirror reflects a stone on one side and its twin, cast in aluminum, on the other; from certain angles it appears as a single object divided neatly between two materials. In Incident (Trait Transference), Kwade performs a similar alchemical shift with four sculptures that pair up equal-size panels of mirror and Corten steel. Transmitted like a virus or fungus, the weathered steel’s rusted coating spreads over the mirror’s surface, supplanting the reflected image with a corroding double.
Kwade’s subjects are objects in crisis, divorced from their traditional functions or contexts. Time Machine is a scattering of fallen leaves, out of place in an otherwise pristine installation. The found set of keys in Wo oben zum Unten (Where Top to Bottom) is affixed to the ceiling, defying gravity and flipping our perspective. These two inconspicuous pieces go virtually unnoticed unless you’re really looking, which Kwade compels you to do, again and again.