Magazine article Artforum International

Tony Feher

Magazine article Artforum International

Tony Feher

Article excerpt

DECORDOVA SCULPTURE PARK AND MUSEUM

In the early 1990s, Tony Feher became known, along with contemporaries such as Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Gabriel Orozco, for rearranging common materials into poetic configurations. Extending the tradition of the readymade into a sculptural sensibility privileging tactile and temporal engagements with ordinary things, Feher struck a balance between allowing his found elements to retain their object-hood, and transforming their individual qualities. Presenting more than twenty-five years of work, this survey establishes Feher as an important figure in the transition between Minimalist industrial austerity and the return to handmade and assembled sculpture in the early 2000s by artists such as Tara Donovan and Sarah Sze. (Organized by Claudia Schmuckli at the University of Houston's Blaffer Art Museum, where it was recently on view, this exhibition also appeared at the Des Moines Art Center and will travel to the Bronx Museum of the Arts this fall.)

Feher's works often fluctuate between maintaining authorial privacy and revealing traces of subjectivity. He generally downplays his presence in the finished sculptures, allowing the marbles, plastic lids, glass jars, and pennies to assert their own qualities of color, texture, and relative transparency--features that are accentuated, in Feller's installations, by proximity to other things. Indications of his labor are consigned to quiet details and careful placement of his ubiquitous components, which rest on the floor, hang from the ceiling, or stretch across the wall. Yet, despite the emphasis on material presence in his exhibitions, Feher is known to be vocal in interviews about both his working methods and his biography. The show's catalogue is, accordingly, full of quotations explaining his personal influences, including his involvement with ACT UP and his own struggle with HIV/AIDS.

Feher developed his strategy of letting things speak for themselves in reaction to the culture wars, when many artists of his generation prioritized speech over objects. Now that his work is being historicized in a museum setting, however, the immediate sense of reticence in Feher's sculptures is being modified; several pieces in the show are accompanied by audio recordings (accessed by dialing a listed number) of the artist himself recounting his works' origins. …

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