Magazine article Artforum International

Michael Joo. (Reviews)

Magazine article Artforum International

Michael Joo. (Reviews)

Article excerpt

PAOLO CURTI & CO.

In preparing this review I noticed that in writings about Michael Joo, from the merely informative to the profound, there is a sort of embarrassment about citing the complete title of one of his recent works, which was present in his first solo exhibition in Italy. Family Standing on a Bridge, Looking into the Future, Pissing, 2001, depicts four figures cast in bronze at two-thirds scale--father, mother, son, and daughter--unequivocally in the act of pissing. The work engages themes with which Joo has been concerned ever since he stopped making the openly and ironically technological installations he became known for in the early '90s. The family is a strong theme, but this family is unanimously joined by an intimate physiological function that is individual and hardly "noble." The bridge, clear symbolism for a passage, leads toward the future, but this family's reaction to the prospect before it is purely physical; one glimpses neither hope in the future nor fear. Finally, the figures are out of scale, reduc ed almost as if they were figures in a diorama. (Others of Joo's works take the form of showcases, as in a natural-history museum.) All these elements induce a subtle sense of loss, of uncertainty and reluctance--and it may be these factors rather than the choice of a somewhat impolite word that lead to the reluctance to cite the work's full title. Joo presents a world without certainties but also without dramas, in a continuous oscillation between polar concepts: tradition/evolution, science/nature, inside/outside, and so on. …

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