Magazine article Artforum International

Karla Black: CAPITAN PETZEL

Magazine article Artforum International

Karla Black: CAPITAN PETZEL

Article excerpt

In recent years Karla Black has become famous for sculptures made of untreated, pastel-colored powdered plaster, ghostly accumulations of plastic sheeting that appear to have been casually, carelessly left to hang in midair, and incredibly fragile-looking paper objects that can stand up on their own but look as if even the slightest breeze would topple them. In short, she has been exploring the ephemeral qualities of enduring transitional states, which she has inscribed in the floury or scraggy bodies of sculptures that are balanced perfectly on the edge between form and anti-form. Her recent show in Berlin was no exception--there was a crumpled paper sculpture; a mobile-like ensemble composed of apparently free-floating sheets of paper that fluctuated between object and picture, space and surface; and a sod installation that gradually dried out over the course of the show. Mostly, though, there were huge hanging plastic-sheeting works and heaps of pastel-tinted powder. And yet something was perceptibly different.

This time, the sheeting sculptures--with their delicate hues, sometimes painted on in little dots, and their overall impression of knottedness and entanglement--didn't appear as abstract and ghostly as before: Rather, they suggested decorative gift wrap. And this more overt referentiality, unusual for Black, was taken up in narrative terms in some works of a new type, in which she used a layering technique to build little rectangular or sometimes triangular towers of what looks like pink and dark-brown sediment--actually blocks of polystyrene glued together and covered with a mixture of mud and glue: pieces that no longer emit the free-floating charm of the ephemeral but have a fixed form. One of them additionally bears on its uppermost layers colorful decorations made of little bits of soap that look like pieces of candy. …

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