Magazine article Artforum International

Amalia Pica: Mit List Visual Arts Center

Magazine article Artforum International

Amalia Pica: Mit List Visual Arts Center

Article excerpt

In her first major museum exhibition in the United States, Amalia Pica considers the urgency of communication and our continual experience of its failure. Honing this discussion, the London-based Argentinean deliberates on the relationship between the one and the many and on the ways in which singular speech acts simultaneously contain the possibility and hopelessness of collective enunciation. Pica's conceptual practice at large is highly attentive to images and forms, broaching "the political" in the broadest possible terms--a distinct strategy among a generation of artists represented to conspicuous effect at the New Museum in New York during the institution's 2012 triennial, "The Ungovernables" (in which Pica also participated). Emerging from the premise that social relationships and political realities are at once ingrained in the material and form of an artwork but are also highly contingent and performative, this aesthetic typology has dramatically proliferated over the past decade. But Pica's work ventures beyond de rigueur reflections on the systems of transmission, exchange, and reception of information that construct the public sphere. At the heart of her practice lies the question, What kind of individuation (and, by extension, what kind of universality) does this aesthetic engender?

At MIT List, the installations Eavesdropper and If These Walls Could Talk (with door) (both 2011) incorporate amateur listening and communication devices invented, one might suppose, to satisfy an individual's desire to be part of a network of social exchange from which he or she is excluded. In Eavesdropper, Pica appears to address this seemingly universal impulse by affixing a drinking glass to the gallery wall (at average ear-level), thereby suggesting the ad hoc and variably successful efforts made by wallflowers who wish to be in on the game. In If These Walls Could Talk, tin-can telephones fabricated from a panoply of empty commercial food containers (for garbanzo beans, tuna fish, soup) are attached to opposing walls and connected by a network of tautly drawn strings. As the lines crisscross the space, it is difficult to parse which cans are linked to which. Further, the open, receiving/transmitting side of the can is inaccessible to the viewer, oriented not out into the space, but the reverse, toward the wall. …

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