Magazine article Artforum International

James Hegge: Paul Rodgers/9W. (New York)

Magazine article Artforum International

James Hegge: Paul Rodgers/9W. (New York)

Article excerpt

James Hegge's first solo show in New York comprised three sculptures, two series of drawings, and a video, all related to real or imagined performative actions. Megaphone for Speaking to the Wall, 1999, is a forty-inch-long fiberglass-and-resin con with an opening at its vertex, a foam gasket around its base, and two rough handles halfway between. The object at first seems absurdly whimsical, then turns darkly cartoonish when one imagines it in use, since the wall fancier's words would only be trapped in the vacuum and throw back into his or her face. Similarly, Conversation Tool, 2000, which resembles a large, incandescent potato, initially app ears benign. Bright white light leaks out of two oval openings in its underside, into which a pair of conversants would stick their heads. Bu when one considers the overlit conversation (or dual interrogation) they would have in the object's claustrophobic and disorienting interior, the piece takes on a slightly diabolical aspect. The mottled surfaces of Megaphone and Conversation Tool make them look like fleshy extensions or prostheses, but the objets' effects are antithetical: preventing or at east disrupting the actions they purport to enhance. As tools, they twist utility to their own ends. In the concretization of speech acts, the communicative potential is transferred to the objects themselves.

Isolation Chamber for the Upper Half of One's Body, 2000, is more mundane in appearance, resembling a large circular bathtub with a waist-sized hole in the bottom. In this case, the communicative potential of the piece passes to a remarkably effective video in which the artist "wore" this heavy receptacle and walked briskly (or staggered) around a field. For the first half of the tape a camera inside the contraption pointed down at Hegge's rythmically pumping, overburdened legs; for the second it filmed the sky, visible over the white crescent rim of the chamber, accompanied only by the sounds of the artist's Sisyphean exertions. …

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