Article excerpt

Under fluorescent light, the mirror foil letters of the words SENSITIVE to detkrgent glimmered on a wall in a corner of Autocenter's one-room exhibition space. Although this banner was similar in appearance to John Knight's wall text autotypes, seen in his 201 I show at Greene Nafrali in New York, any pursuit of the apparent affiliation between Knight's work and the recent sculptural production of German-Norwegian artist Yngve Holen leads only to a dead end. The auto parts included in HoletTs exhibition may have been intended to pun on the name of Autocenter, a ten-year-old fixture among Berlin's independent art spaces, but they did not treat it, as Knight might well have done, as a subject for critique. Instead, in the vein of contemporary assemblage sculptors such as Rachel Harrison or Isa Gcnz.ken, Holen's work takes a position whereby the traditions of the readymade and of Minimalism find their continuation through an embodiment of--better, an enactment of--consumption.

Aligned diagonally across the space, four sculptures incorporated such materials as car bumpers and tires, the drums from a washing machine and tumble dryer, clothing, cleaning products, and other consumer goods. In the grill of a Mercedes SL500 or the face of a Swatch watch depicting an eye's iris, viewers find more than the stuff of everyday life; we find the commodities that--in a ceaseless progression--we purchase and simultaneously employ to define our individual identities. The Mercedes's severe, aggressive, and inky black grill represents an ideal both in the eyes of consumers and in the aesthetics of contemporary art, while its scuffed and broken form reveals that it has been in an accident. Carving dangerous lines in three-dimensional space and contrasting drastically with their modest white pedestals, the auto parts, and especially the tires on which the bumpers rest, find their complement in the pristine, reflective surfaces of the metallic drums. …


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