Ryan Taber: Mark Moore Gallery

By Miles, Christopher | Artforum International, November 2006 | Go to article overview

Ryan Taber: Mark Moore Gallery


Miles, Christopher, Artforum International


Within the fluidly baroque form of one small sculpture, a cast-plastic jellyfish inspired by the illustrations of nineteenth-century naturalist Ernst Haeckel appears to arise from or descend onto a miniature, hand-hewn wooden replica of a 1901 Art Nouveau music stand by Alexander-Louis-Marie Charpentier. Snarled among the invertebrate's tentacles is the wreckage of a biplane, which turns out to be that of the Italian literary figure Gabriele D'Annunzio, a World War I hero and a protofascist. One of three sculptures accompanied by a collection of works on paper in graphite and watercolor (all works 2006), this piece exemplifies Ryan Taber's penchant for spatiotemporal rifts and displacements of iconography.

D'Annunzio's airplane is a recurring motif throughout the show. Among the works on paper, it is shown--adorned with the tits, male genitals, and "she-he-it" insignia with which the on-the-run hippies decorated their stolen plane in Michelangelo Antonioni's 1970 counterculture box-office blunder Zabriskie Point---swooping over a Haeckelesque bird's nest assembled from bits of the "Tree of Life"--patterned leaded glass windows installed in Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House. In Taber's drawings, carefully rendered jellyfish and birds--one seeming to have evolved with colors and markings similar to those of D'Annunzio's aircraft--force the lines of Wright's panes to behave per-spectivally as backdrops for their inhabitants. Habitation and absence become three-dimensional in a second sculpture, a tribute to Zabriskie Point star Mark Frechette, who after a few years of post-stardom communal living died in a jailhouse weightlifting accident. In it, a leaded glass replica of a Robie House window is folded into a freestanding structure, suggestive of trees, bricoleurish architecture, and a watchtower, and playing host to an empty nest. …

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