Magazine article Artforum International

Phillip Lai: STUART SHAVE/MODERN ART

Magazine article Artforum International

Phillip Lai: STUART SHAVE/MODERN ART

Article excerpt

Right from the start, you could be certain only that there would be no certainties. Just inside the door of this show, on the floor of the gallery's lobby, Phillip Lai had installed Untitled (all works 2009). On and around a low pile of foam slabs of various sizes and thicknesses were four wine bottles, a couple of balls, and a baseball bat--a temporary resting place, perhaps, for a gregarious though security-minded vagrant. All of the objects are cast in sponge foam, but they are imperfect, looking as if parts of their surface layers have been left in the mold; the balls in particular seem almost purposefully distressed. A similar one was pictured in isolation on the mailer for the show, where it looked like nothing so much as a degraded globe. The slabs, too, far from being abject found material, have been carefully cast to appear just like what they actually are. Questions of occupation without possession, of simulation and dissimulation, of transience and vagrancy, of conviviality tempered by suspicion and the potential for brutality and oblivion, all arose in this initial doorstep encounter.

Untitled (smokes), is the aluminum framework of a temporary shop unit--like something one might find in the booking hall of a railway station or some such place of transit. Cigarettes, or bits of them, have been poked into several of the holes drilled through the frame, and a cheap disposable lighter rests on the lintel of the door opening. The whole construction is set, unfixed, atop a number of fruit pits: One slight nudge would knock it off its unstable perch. Lai's last show at Modern Art, "Free to Meet for Coffee Sometime Soon," offered a positive image of shared experience, commonality, and discursive engagement while remaining critical of any easy mapping of such activity onto broader models of social and political action; Untitled (smokes) maintains this complexity in its understated treatment of the conflicting prospects of contact and compromise held out to the individual through this shareable pleasure/poison. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.