Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

Anish Kapoor Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

By Jones, Caroline A. | Artforum International, October 2008 | Go to article overview

Anish Kapoor Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston


Jones, Caroline A., Artforum International


WHO KNEW THAT MINIMALISM would have such generative power for those once seen as beyond its borders? It is as if all the women and "others" once presumed not to get it, got it--and got more of it than the founding fathers (Stella, Flavin, Judd) ever dreamed. This "it" was the abject body, as the art historian Michael Fried made explicit a decade ago when rereading his own previous take on Minimal art (or "literalism," as he termed it):

  [L]iteralism theatricalized the body, put it endlessly on stage,
  made it uncanny or opaque to itself, hollowed it out, deadened its
  expressiveness, denied its finitude and in a sense its
  humanness. ... There is, I might have said, something vaguely
  monstrous about the body in literalism.

In fact, Fried's 1998 gloss plausibly accounts for the work Anish Kapoor was making that same year. Titles such as Her Blood or Wounds and Absent Objects seemed to leach into more neutrally named pieces such as Resin, Air, Space II, in which maroon resin begins to look like fluid bathing the (hollow) body trapped inside. Kapoor had been sprinkling salt on Minimalism's geometry for years, turning it inside out to reveal the viscera within. Perhaps seeing what Kapoor (or Mona Hatoum or Janine Antoni) did with Minimalism made Fried aware of the "monstrous" bodies latent in its abstract forms. To monstrate (demonstrate, remonstrate) is to show--the tawdry requisite of our trade in the visual. But it is also the "show" that performs the thrall of the fetish--a body (or part) that is both "in" the object and yet, ultimately, only a projection.

Kapoor's tightly selected ICA Boston survey brought Minimalism's monstrosity to mind with ostentatious reticence--big objects that hover at the edge of visibility, or project eerie reflections into the space between us and their actual surfaces, or ply waxy goop in a visceral deep maroon. This last is the newest phase in Kapoor's succession of material vocabularies ("the pigment language, the void language, the mirror language, the wax language," as he calls them), represented at Boston in the exhibition's eponymous work: Past, Present, Future, 2006. An enormous section of a sphere squats between the floor, wall, and ceiling, slathered with gallons and gallons of viscous wax and oil-based paint (which staff kept calling Vaseline); a motorized planing device systematically scrapes the sphere, seeming to shape its curves. The device completes its solemn rotation once every one hundred minutes, attesting to Kapoor's avowed desire for objects that are "self-manifesting," "unauthored," "self-made," and "auto-generating." (Indeed, one of Kapoor's most recent motor/wax pieces is titled Svayambh, 2007, Sanskrit for self-manifestation--a monstrance, to be sure.) Certainly, such preoccupations have precedents in Jasper Johns's paint-scraping devices, Richard Serra's castings into a corner, Matthew Barney's oozing materials, and even Gerhard Richter's "automatist" abstractions. But perhaps most telling is this work's relation to Mona Hatoum's important motorized piece +and-, 1994-2004, which critiques the very manliness of such mechanical "forming" activities with an ephemeral drawing in the sand that is canceled as promptly as it is made. Kapoor's mechanism shares Hatoum's ambivalence about the authorial gesture. Like an enormously slow potter's shaping tool, the mechanism of Past, Present, Future seems intent on making a perfect hemisphere, but it can never complete this task. The walls themselves get in the way, as does the wadded wax that accumulates on either side. It is not as deft as Hatoum's piece, but Kapoor's is striking for its conjunction of bodily mess with squared and trued technical perfection. As he says of Svayambb, in which a train track mechanism carries its mass of wax sloppily through the Haus der Kunst in Munich, where the work is on permanent display, "the building is shitting this thing."

Kapoor's willingness to put the excrement back into modernist hygiene might be one way of understanding the postcolonial contemporaneity of his work.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Anish Kapoor Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.