Magazine article Artforum International

Molly Smith; KATE WERBLE GALLERY

Magazine article Artforum International

Molly Smith; KATE WERBLE GALLERY

Article excerpt

For her third New York solo show--and her first at Kate Werble--Molly Smith grouped diminutive sculptures in casual table-bound cliques, with other, larger assemblages hugging the surrounding walls. Surprisingly evocative installation devices, these bases offered up their wares in a manner that highlighted the delicate formal specificity of each of Smith's structures, while simultaneously rendering the pieces all the more affective for their staged interrelations. For instance, the triangular, sail-like zenith of Sink, 2009, repeated the apex of the adjacent Stand, 2010; the former's cracked mirror base--though both wholly abstract and obdurately specific in its employment of this material--called to mind nothing so much as the undulating surface of water, whose hues reappeared as the color on Stand's aqueous membrane. Then there was the intricate Shell, 2010, a small crepe paper bowl resting alongside them; it recalled a toppled acorn, or, more to the theme perhaps, a beachcomber's prize, with an interior positioned to reveal a dense, quasi-geologic moire of striated concentric rings. Yet such a description (or associative train) risks overwhelming these objects, for they also insist on their distantiated relation to meaning as only, at best, loosely referential things, more evocative than even obliquely representational.

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In this, Smith seems to take seriously her show's title, "Whether," a qualifying phrase that additionally suggests a position of doubt relative to two possibilities--as in, whether x or y, z still proves unlikely. She frames the issue in her accompanying statement: "Walking to my studio, a discarded object I pass on the sidewalk is transformed in my mind, eliciting narrative possibilities through its gesture, condition and context. I am drawn to the enigmatic possibilities of an accidental scene. …

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