Fiona Connor: Closed for Installation, SculptureCenter, #4

SculptureCenter

New York

April 29 – July 29, 2019

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Fiona Connor’s exhibition at SculptureCenter is composed of three pieces—two installed or taking place in the museum, and the other in the surrounding neighborhood, away from the spectator’s involvement. The first is a set of bronze-cast sculptures throughout the lower level galleries and courtyard; the second is the organization of an annual window cleaning in a nearby apartment, signaled to passersby by a modest plaque on the building; and lastly, collective workshops that Connor organized at the museum to produce an artist book. In thinking how such divergent objects or actions coalesce, it is helpful to consider how each piece analyzes distinct forms of value production within the exhibitionary art system: value produced via the tools of institutional spectatorship and accessibility, maintenance, and collective participation. That being said, a primary concern that emerges is how to reconcile different models of organizing work against forces that foreclose collective potentiality.

In the years since the “liberal counter-reformation”—as French philosopher Gilles Châtelet referred to the neoliberal, reactionary global politics that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan built atop the beaten corpse of May ’68—work has become increasingly invisible and devastatingly precarious. Given this historical context, attention to “labor” in art, as elsewhere, has become ubiquitous. Rarely, however, is this interest organized in a way that mobilizes across various axes of division; most often such attention speculates on other imaginaries—the troubled legacy of what was once referred to as “social practice” is perhaps the best example. When Connor and I discussed this concern over the phone, she remarked that many artistic projects around work as of late often fall for clichés (I think here of a common impulse to fetishize the working class or, worse yet, poverty), and that they often “reinforce categorizations or hierarchies.” On the latter point, consider the potential dangers in reifying the wage contract when agitating to recognize forms of typically invisibilized work. Connor’s exhibition proposes an elegant corrective (albeit mitigated by its institutional support): an analysis of the “latent heat of certain actions,” as she put it. I take this term to refer to the unrealized collective energy embedded in all our work, including attention, and the products or value that result from it. Connor’s move then, is to show this heat, in its sites of display, its geographic context, and its waste—three themes that can be used to analyze the varied acts of the exhibition.

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Fiona Connor: #8, Closed for Installation, Sequence of Events

Secession

Vienna, Austria

27 June – 1 September 2019

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The New Zealand-born artist Fiona Connor makes sculptural installations in which she replicates objects and structures of everyday life. Her recreations of bulletin boards, drinking fountains, furniture, and doors not only draw attention to these widely overlooked items and their forms, they also reconstruct the histories and micro-economies of communities. Many of her works respond to the infrastructure of the places and environments where she exhibits them, uncovering the underlying mechanisms that may inform our interactions with art and art institutions. The sculptures reveal the artist’s deep curiosity about how things are made. They play with the ambiguity of the handmade and the manufactured, as well as with the boundaries of an art object.

For her exhibition at the Secession, #8, Closed for Installation, Sequence of Events, Connor has developed a body of work that comprises 23 bronze objects that resemble tools commonly used in the installation process of an exhibition: a measuring tape, ruler, pencil, dolly, etc. The sculptures work with the rules of a certain period of labour and maintenance, replicating tools that look very similar all around the world and are usually out of sight at the opening of the exhibition.

In the framework of Connor’s exhibition, the artist was also realizing two projects outside of the Secession: One at Karl-Marx-Hof, a municipal housing complex, where she made a copy of a community bulletin board and relocated it for the duration of the show to a private apartment. The other one is to permanently exchange a standard door from another social housing project in Vienna with a door from a house in Los Angeles.

More Information

Fiona Connor: Openings

Fiona Connor | By Michael Ned Holte | ArtForum

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Long before the advent of Craigslist, bulletin boards emblematized the self-organized welter of transactional democracy. That they continue to exist in schools, libraries, and coffee shops is a testament to their earnest, utilitarian promise, even as they tend to disappear in plain sight—that is, unless you’re suddenly in need of communication with a highly localized audience: You’ve lost a pet, you’re selling a car, you’re seeking guitar lessons or a Spanish tutor.

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Fiona Connor: Closed for Installation

Sculpture Center

Long Island City, NY

29 April - 29 July 2019

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Los Angeles-based artist Fiona Connor remakes overlooked everyday objects, including bulletin boards, park benches, community noticeboards, doors of closed down clubs, real estate signs, municipal water fountains, and so on. She is interested in where these objects come from, what they are made out of, who makes them and for whom, as well as the relationships that the artist initiates and maintains in order to reproduce and re-present the objects as works of art.

For her new commission at SculptureCenter, Connor is producing a set of intersecting works that bring together the artist’s investment in the various operations of sculpture in an expansive field of production, maintenance, and display. In the gallery, she shows a number of bronze pieces that replicate tools required to install an exhibition, such as a measuring tape, a paint tray, a dolly, and scraps of cardboard. Nearby in an apartment in Long Island City, the artist arranges for an annual window cleaning, in perpetuity.

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Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane

Fiona Connor | E-Flux

In an age marked by mass migration, technologically accelerated dislocation, and rapid urban development, notions of home and belonging need to be imagined anew. At once located and displaced, how to live together is one of the crucial questions of our time. These ideas have even greater urgency in settler-colonial contexts where notions of ownership have very real consequences historically and in the present. Artists in this exhibition—Zanny Begg, Heman Chong, Fiona Connor, Megan Cope, Brian Jungen and Duane Linklater, Joar Nango,Christian Nyampeta, and Amie Siegel—present works focusing on the conceptions, creations, developments, and experiences of home as they are affected by colonialism, urban development, and gentrification. Ultimately, a growing population, changing climate, and dwindling natural resources demand that we re-imagine what our shared future can look like.

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Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles Review: Fiona Connor at the MAK Center

Fiona Connor,  Closed Down Clubs  (2018) (installation view). Image courtesy of the artist and MAK Center. Photo: Esteban Schimpf.

Fiona Connor, Closed Down Clubs (2018) (installation view). Image courtesy of the artist and MAK Center. Photo: Esteban Schimpf.

Fiona Connor at the MAK Center

Beyond mere entry and exit, not much thought is given to the doors through which we pass every day. Closed Down Clubs, New Zealand-born, Los Angeles-based artist Fiona Connor’s latest exhibition, invited contemplation of the larger significations of such mundane portals. Housed at the MAK Center’s Mackey Garage Top (a sleek and airy space above a garage behind a Rudolf Schindler house), Connor’s exhibition was comprised of nine freestanding doors installed in a staggered, parallel formation, each emblazoned with printed or hand-written signs announcing the recent closure of the businesses to which they were once attached.

Like virtually all of Connor’s work, each of the sculptures included is a meticulous replication of an actual object. Having previously assumed such forms as bulletin boards, drinking fountains, and architectural infrastructure, her works are typically adorned with artist-drawn or screen-printed stickers, posters, or pamphlets to faithfully match the original reference as closely as possible. As relics of shared space, her works often bear traces of obsolescence or fatigue, expounded through the artist’s fastidious duplication of objects’ apparent wear or corrosion. Closed Down Clubs was no exception—one could sense the traffic that Connor’s chosen doors had experienced in their past lives, as seen in suspended animation (such as where sullied hands cumulatively left their mark in instances of worn-o paint or accumulated grime). With such minute attention to detail, Connor’s work offers a verisimilitude so precise that it could easily be mistaken for the real thing, which begs the question: why laboriously recreate an object that could simply be appropriated?

Unlike Danh Vo or Cameron Rowland, two artists whose use of the readymade foregrounds the compelling personal and political histories of their chosen objects, Connor’s work is a deft repetition of the real. Indeed, her readymade-once-removed production is a fiction residing in tandem with reality—meaning we are meant to understand that her work is a facsimile of lived experience at a particular place and time. With this, Connor mobilizes the deceptive surface of artifice not only to underscore the often-overlooked aesthetic qualities of quotidian objects, but also what they communicate about the societies in which they function.

By Thomas Duncan

Full Review