Friday, February 10, 2012

Simone Leigh:  You Don't Know Where Her Mouth Has Been

     You Don’t Know Where Her Mouth Has Been, an exhibition at The Kitchen gallery by sculptor and installation artist Simone Leigh, explores a wide range of themes in dramatic fashion.  Leigh weaves large-scale sculpture and video installation that mysteriously combine to create an alternate reality where ancient relics from the past meet a projection of a fictionalized futuristic world.  The elusive narrative unfolds against black gallery walls where carefully placed spotlights reveal three large chandelier-like sculptures.  The first of these, titled Queen Bee, dominates the space, presenting itself as a large hanging form made up of a cluster of smaller breast-like sculptures.  This peculiar bundle of orbs seems strangely out of context in its presentation and might normally only convey a sense of fertility and nurturing, feminine sexuality or maternal protection were it not for a more threatening presence evoked by several long TV antennas protruding from what look to be the forms’ gold and platinum nipples. 
     An unusual experience of time in this exhibition is enhanced by Leigh’s use of digital video alongside her artifacts that evoke the past in their use of terra cotta, gold and graphite.  Leigh creates a world where the archaic and an imagined version of the future are commingled in the present.  Her synthesis of anthropomorphic forms constructed from earthy materials collides with visions of the future creating a sense of timelessness that transcends the sum of the exhibitions references.

1 comment:

  1. I love your description of this exhibition as joining an ancient past with a futuristic sense, giving the space a timeless feel. That summarizes this show with keen accuracy. I also like how you described Simone Leigh’s Queen Bee, referencing both its feminine and threatening/aggressive impressions. These descriptions are spot-on.

    My only criticism is that labeling Simone Leigh as a sculptor is not entirely fitting. The term doesn’t fully encompass the video projections or the performance piece that she enacted after our visit. Reading “sculptor” in the first sentence, then reading later that digital video was also exhibited feels inconsistent.