Folkert de Jong, Mount Maslow, 2007, (detail), styrofoam, polyurethane foam and pigment, [source]
Any exhibition where the organizing factor is as straightforward as material runs the risk of reading like a treatise on variation and the artists’ ingenuity of the material’s exploited uses. With a material as ubiquitous and malleable as styrofoam, the title and basis of RISD museum’s current exhibition, the risk of catalogued variation seems a pitfall hard to avoid.
Yet, in this quirky show, the stuff the artwork is made of stays in the background, allowing the works to speak to one another in surprising ways by using the properties of the material as a point of conversation.
Richard Tuttle’s carved arrowhead-shaped works play at the crossroads of high / low art and old / new technology. B. Wurtz’s photographs of the contours of packing material are a humorous take on modern landscape. Heide Fasnacht’s Exploding Plane, which hovers in the airspace above the other works, though made in 2000, draws the conversation into a possible political commentary on exploited natural resources and the lead-up to the terror attacks of 2001.
It is Folkert de Jong’s dancing figures that inspired curator Judith Tannenbaum to originally propose the exhibition. Carved into kilted totems of leprechaun-like hilarity, these creatures pose defiantly under the deadly plane, just, you know, keepin’ it light.
March 14-July 20, 2008