Magazine article Artforum International

Peter Sacks: PAUL RODGERS/9W

Magazine article Artforum International

Peter Sacks: PAUL RODGERS/9W

Article excerpt

Collage seems consigned to barely more than miniature. Its size would be a function of the width of newspaper columns, of the decorative patterns of wallpaper, of bus tickets and candy wrappers. Only Guernica broke with this scale of bits and scraps. It achieved mural dimensions by resorting to imitation: "newsprint" scattered over large planes through broken lines of black. Disdaining imitation, Peter Sacks achieves triptychs nearly fifteen feet wide by typing texts onto long rolls of linens of various kinds--winding sheets, shrouds, strips of prison shirts.

These textual scrolls overlie a mixture of fabrics and corrugated board, the whole given a luminous sheen by washes of white acrylic. Their surfaces radiate the character of monochromes steamrolling over the thickened oscillation of figure/ground. The texts in question vary from Daniel Paul Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (1903) and Aby Warburg's 1923 "Lecture on Serpent Ritual," both composed in mental asylums, to Rilke's "Duino Elegies" of 1912-22 and the "Time Passes" section of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927). Forcing the viewer to linger over the surface, to which is attached various kinds of netting and lace, the columns of text produce something akin to Roland Barthes's description in The Pleasure of the Text (1973) of the reader's slowing down so as to experience the pleasure of the signifier against the pressure of racing toward narrative closure.

The open weave of the netting, meanwhile, brings to the surface the infrastructure of painting's tightly woven canvas--another avatar of the signifier. In Necessity 8, 2007--2009, the mesh of textures doubles Schreber's fantasy--typed on the work's fabric--of being impregnated by the rays of God as these filaments attach themselves to his nerve endings. Such "interweavings" both thicken and lighten Sacks's collages, which shimmer in their brave disdain for a mistaken identity as a form of Cubism. Just as Schreber's memoir is rhymed with the mesh of fabric, Warburg's example points to that massive collage of art-historical memory, his Mnemnosyne Atlas (1924-29). Memory is the infrastructure of Sacks's collage, differentiating his concatenations of material from Robert Rauschenberg's visual Combines.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The laces contrast with the corrugated surfaces as handcraft to industrial material. …

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