Eric Banks, Against Monuments
Much of the most interesting gestures in “The Ungovernables” toy in one way or another with the idea of monumentality, whether by addressing scale or by nodding to the historically deflated form of commemorative public sculpture. The six sheets of thin, hammered copper that the Vietnamese-born Berlin-based artist Danh Võ has causally sprawled on the floor or leaned against the New Museum’s fourth floor walls are fragmentary components of the replica shell of the Statue of Liberty he had fabricated in China. His work seems less like a monument yanked off its pedestal than an ambiguous dressing down of Lady Liberty. In its ambivalent approach to a piece of public sculpture overloaded with symbolic meaning, Võ’s crippled, scattered statue exemplifies a good bit of the work in the Triennial. Nearby, the Argentine artist Adrián Villar Rojas’s gargantuan sculpture A Person Loved Me reaches all the way to the rafters, its upward thrust seemingly arrested only by the physical limitations of the boxy, high-ceilinged space. Constructed of clay, which provocatively undermines the work’s futuristic, vaguely Space Invaders form with a weathered, decaying look, the sculpture is equal parts sci-fi fantasy and industrial relic. These two large-scale takes on the monument sit uneasily with each other, but as they jostle for the viewer’s attention, a kind of unspoken dialogue between them emerges.
Photo: front left: Danh Võ: WE THE PEOPLE, 2011; center: Adrián Villar Rojas: A Person Loved Me, 2012; right: Amalia Pica: Eavesdropping (Version # 2, large), 2011 (New Museum)