Alice Konitz: Susanne Vielmetter

Article excerpt

In her 2004 exhibition at Susanne Vielmetter, Alice Konitz presented an absurdist video featuring four characters in an idyllic natural setting, all wearing geometric masks that looked at once primitive and fashionable. Such images represented a way for Konitz to begin negotiating the complex symbolic terrain between exteriority and interiority. In her latest show she continued to use formalism as a vehicle for moving from idiosyncratic concerns--recurring modular shapes, familiar low-budget materials, a limited palette now further refined to brown and metallic colors--toward an investigation of the wider social realm. While Konitz stated no explicit political ambition, the exhibition's no-nonsense title, "Public Sculpture," invokes a social dimension at a moment when "public" and "private" are semantic notions defined by an elite.

Konitz has often employed models and maquettes as a means of interrogating space, and even her fully realized works often feel provisional. Based on a maquette on view in the gallery's back room, the show's capacious if spare centerpiece, Mall Sculpture (all works 2006), comprises four large, thin, hexagonal melamine frames covered in brown felt that are in turn supported by five triangular columns covered with sheets of reflective gold-colored construction paper. Despite the regularity of the modular units, the work's overall plan is asymmetrical and looks surprisingly arbitrary, appearing at once like an enormous, unclasped gold bracelet and an errant fragment from a low-budget science-fiction set. Konitz based her form on architectural structures she observed in West Los Angeles's Century City--shiny urban-scaled emblems of late capitalism, anxiously situated between Utopian modernism and the empty promise of postmodernism. Theatrically exposing its thrifty origins and heavily glued joints, Mall Sculpture communicates its inability to signify luxury and power, instead performing as both disruptive barrier and open-ended monument to the contingencies of social space. …