Art Outside the Box

All too often sculpture plays second fiddle—the unwieldy, outsized stepsister to painting’s Cinderella. It is a rare feat to find a show that incorporates some sculpture, and rarer still to visit an entire exhibition devoted to “the issue of the object in contemporary sculpture.” And yet, at Carlier | Gebauer, monolithic totems, outsized installations, quirky slideshows, and monumental video art all coalesce into a compelling, off-beat exploration; unfortunately, said exploration does not even begin to do justice to the “the issue of the object in contemporary sculpture,” as the curatorial statement claims.

It is decidedly ironic that in writing a review of a show ostensibly dedicated to the question of the object, I have obstinately taken issue with the concept itself. However, before I impose my qualms about the curatorial vision, integrity dictates that we do justice to the objects themselves.

The Thing Itself

The namesake piece, Guillame Leblon’s "The Probability That Nothing Will Happen," dominates the primary space of the gallery. At first glance, the piece appears to be a wooden desk with three legs and a pillar of sand in place of the fourth. Upon closer inspection and circumnavigation the work expands in space and complexity, appearing at times to be a rough amalgamation of wooden palettes, then a stainless steel sink, and finally a vitrine holding an unknown item wrapped, christo-like, in plastic.

carlier-gebauer-3Guillame Leblon’s "The Probability That Nothing Will Happen." Photo: Chris Phillips

Against the back wall, a tower of what appear to be blocks of clay, stacked on end, leans precariously at a height of more than 10 feet. To the left, what seems to be a cardboard box taped to the wall is in fact a piece of styrofoam camouflaged by the prodigious strips of brown packing tape supporting it.