Magazine article Artforum International

Daniel Wheeler

Magazine article Artforum International

Daniel Wheeler

Article excerpt

Characterized less by the sterile estheticism of sculpture than by the exuberantly inviting playfulness of a children's jungle gym, Daniel Wheeler's interactive, almost architectural pieces politicize spatial relations, engaging the visitor with their tightly conceived, beautifully crafted forms. Drawing on Minimalism's dogmatic monumentality, Wheeler eschews its macho "thereness," extending its project in order to engage, even seduce, the spectator: his installations have a corporeal quality and present open-ended narratives that can only be completed by the gallery-goer.

Upon entering this show entitled "frontier," you immediately encountered an over six-foot-tall tentlike structure. Two arm-holes with pockets attached extended into the interior of the tent, enticing you to thrust your arms inside and grope about in the invisible space. After the momentary thrill of uncertainty, you discovered the quintessentially unnatural body of a stuffed coyote. The manipulative play of this piece, Untitled (foray), 1990-91, was complemented by that of its neighbor Untitled (reservoir), 1992, a large-roofed wooden cylinder mounted on scaffolding like a water tower. Again, you were invited to act--to climb a wooden ladder to reach a hole in the side of the cylinder. Within the hole an intense, velvety darkness enveloped your head as you looked inside--the kind of uncompromising blackness we can no longer experience naturally in our overdeveloped environment; you could hear yourself breathing, suddenly forced to enter into a dialogue with your own body. Beneath the tower, the concreteness of a stack of white cowboy hats in a burlap sack served as a counterpoint to the spare message of the architectural structure, breaking the intense physical exchange between the work and the visitor.

In Untitled (orbit), 1992, Wheeler continued his interrogation of the exploratory trajectory of (one assumes) the white man's exploitation of the frontier. …

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