The Contemporary Austin
700 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78701
September 15, 2018 - January 13, 2019
Props, Assists and Situations: Jessica Stockholder at The Contemporary Austin
The promotional photographs for Relational Aesthetics, Jessica Stockholder’s show at The Contemporary Austin at the Jones Center, share some compelling features with the works themselves — they confuse the eye. It’s no accident.
“I don’t think in volume,” Stockholder says, “I think graphically.” The sculptures themselves are described not as installations, but as three-dimensional paintings, or in some cases, “situations.” Stockholder’s propensity for working from a graphic, two-dimensional idea creates an interesting life cycle to the work, which transitions repeatedly from two-dimensional thought experiment to a three-dimensional model from which a full-scale work is rendered, and then to documentation photographs. In most instances this last phase might feel like convention, or bureaucratic necessity, but with these works, one wonders if the resulting images are actually nearer the artist’s original impulse than the structures themselves. Or perhaps it’s just another iteration of a persistent theme in Stockholder’s work — every element’s success is dependent on another element.
Stockholder routinely manipulates a viewer’s perception of space though materiality and composition, and refers to many of her works in Relational Aesthetics as “assists.” These forms range from bundles of sticks to unwieldy sheets of metal that appear to be waving in the wind, or heavy-gauge metal screens supporting miniature works of art by other artists. Each of these assists are in turn supported by a prop, which is strange reversal of expectation — or is it function, or is it semantics?
By Tatiana Ryckman