Magazine article Artforum International

Daniel Wiener

Magazine article Artforum International

Daniel Wiener

Article excerpt

A loopy parade of pre-oedipal playthings surrounded the visitor to Daniel Wiener's jam-packed exhibition of unnameable sculptural objects. His exuberantly colored, multitextured, and polymorphously perverse configurations of the materials from which household handicrafts are often made seem to be the real, living fusions of abstract mutant cartoon characters and unattached libidinal energy. You could easily imagine that the strangely familiar things that touched every surface of the gallery and charged every inch of its space resulted from a chance encounter between the 20th-century psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich and the loveable puppets from Sesame Street. It is as if Reich, who is now regarded as little more than a benign crackpot, had gotten his revenge by smuggling one of his patented "orgone accumulators" onto the set of the children's TV program. Wiener's own show looks like it was made by Big Bird, Oscar, and the Cookie Monster, in a collective attempt to fabricate three-dimensional equivalents for the sensations experienced inside Reich's molecule-collecting sense stimulator.

With a surplus of humor, and an open invitation to poke and prod their endlessly fingerable protrusions, orifices, lumps, and tentacles, Wiener's guiltless constructions appeared to be driven by a compulsion to communicate. Unambiguously oral--but never fixated at this stage--they seem silently to stutter and scream, spasmodically to gesticulate and blankly to stare, as if the messages they wanted to convey were both impossible to express and simple, simultaneously nonverbal and part of a common language.

Each of Wiener's eight goofily animated arrangements of meticulously twisted wire, suggestively poured plaster, obsessively wadded Sculpey, and lovingly sewn fabric gives the impression that it has, if not a personality of its own, at least a particular style--a consistent mode of being in the world whose movement, function, and demeanor dovetail in a singular whole. …

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