Magazine article Sculpture

London

Magazine article Sculpture

London

Article excerpt

Rachel Whiteread Tate Britain

Tate Britain removed interior walls for its recent Rachel Whiteread retrospective, creating an open 1,500-square-meter space-an unusual modification that allowed all of the sculptures to be viewed with a single sweep of the eyes. A mesmerizing quietude pervaded the space-individual pieces, sedate and pale, appeared to evaporate into their environment. The show spanned Whiteread's output from the 1980s through the present, using a regimented manner of display to create an all-encompassing effect. One had the sense of entering a vast mausoleum, with each sculpture a kind of echo of the world in which we live.

Whiteread's method is based on one overarching idea-casting the space within and around objects to create negative impressions. She developed this sculptural reversal early on in her career, applying a method similar to Bruce Nauman's A Cast of the Space Under My Chair. Although the technique continues to sustain Whiteread's practice, she has pushed the boundaries of possibility to an extreme, working in plaster, resin, rubber, concrete, metal, and paper. The sculptures featured here ranged in scale from the modestUntitled (Pink Torso)-to the monumental-Untitled (Room 101) and Stairs-every one imbued with traces of human existence, history, and memory. Given the site-specific nature of her most iconic projects, works such as House and Monument (London), Water Tower (New York), Holocaust Memorial (Vienna), and Cabin (Governor's Island) were represented via documentary material. House, a temporary project in the East End, won the 1993 Turner Prize for Whiteread, who became the first female recipient.

The exhibition featured many sculptures cast from architectural features-floors, doors, and windows-and domestic objects, such as a group of Torsos cast from the interiors of hot water bottles. Here, the material was poured in, allowed to dry, and the rubber exterior then removed to reveal the finished sculpture, vaguely reminiscent of a human torso. Some are cast in clear resin, others in yellow wax or fleshpink plaster, and every one is poised and inflated differently. Untitled (Book Corridors) consists of three plaster casts of the spaces between library shelving. There is, of course, nothing to read, but the work remains evocative of knowledge and ideas. …

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