Thursday, February 11, 2016

Doug Wheeler, Encasements at David Zwirner

It is very interesting to see how the show is extended to the external aspect, which is the viewers are required to cover their shoes in white to walk into this holy and purified showroom. In this futuristic white cube, a sense of void strongly hit me. Although it is a shrining structure with highly stylized aesthetic that the artist created, the void in the show is not only about the ideology of the artist, it is a void that welcomes everyone to be immersed in. Within the space, I am able to meditate. The white squares become mirrors, then I stare at them and see myself in there.

The mellowed edges challenge the spacial perception of the audience. The meditative limitation is abolished. In each separated room, the artwork let the viewers to define the discrepancy according to their personal perceptions. I would say one of the crucial twist is the square-shaped light rim in the center of the show. Compare to the obviously artificial light boxes, the light rim refers to the natural light, and slightly hints me that there is an outside world, and I am trapping in this ideological ambiguity. It is a show about almost nothing but everything, which is fulfilled by the audience.

Above: Installation view, Doug Wheeler: Encasements, David Zwirner, New York, 2016. © 2016 Doug Wheeler


  1. I enjoy how you describe your personal experience instead of interpret the work rationally. I do agree the show is providing an open ended path, which should be directed by the people. It is a magnificent characteristic of the contemporary art that requires the audience to complete the work. I also like how you explain the light rim. The rim was ignored by me while I was possessed by the glowing cubes. I am glad that your review reminds me about it, and I think reminding is another important function of a review. However, it might be helpful to include some information about the artist.

  2. This show was certainly an immersive, almost transcendent experience, so it is fitting that you chose to describe it from a very personal perspective. That being said, I think your use of poetic language sometimes gets away from you and makes it difficult for the reader to really visualize the show. What artist are we looking at and where? Why is there a sense of void? What makes the shining structure highly stylized? What IS the shining structure? What is his ideology that you mention? What do you mean by the “meditative limitation is abolished?” Some metaphors are clear, for instance: the white squares becoming mirrors in which you see yourself, creating a self-reflective, meditative moment. That use of language makes your writing unique, but I think it needs to be balanced with some more concrete imagery for the reader to hold on to. I also think, as you are writing from a personal perspective, you should begin with the personal - that first moment where you are covering your shoes. You can bring in the more abstract ideas (“the show is extended to the external”) later. I can visualize what is happening if you begin by saying “Viewers are required to cover their shoes…” and I am curious to know what happens next.