Footprints to Fingertips
November 21 –
December 21, 2019
PRESS: Artforum Critics’ Picks by Lou Ellingson
Raw, solid, liquid, molten, fired, colourful, minimalist, abstract, evocative... materials in all their states are central to Vera Kox’s sculptural work. Interested in the modes of material existence and transformation, she reveals it’s transitory, ephemeral and fragmentary nature by recycling, deforming and recomposing it. In the solo exhibition footprints to fingertips at 22,48 m² in Paris, the Luxembourgian-German artist currently in residency at Cité internationale des arts, presents a selection of site-specific installations surrounding her current research. Inspired by Brancusi’s term of the ‘mobile group’ - the idea of an inseparable and interdependant group of sculptures, Vera Kox combines various fragments to create a whole – each exhibition allows her to rethink and reformulate the placement of her pieces like an alphabet or a script in progress. This yields an ambiguous and evocative physicality borrowed from meticulously selected mass-produced items and building material : puddles of plaster, packaging material, bubble wrap, rolls of insulation foam, aluminum casts of instant noodles and rice cakes, anti-slip mats and even hair extensions. Her works composed of all these materials are juxtaposed in as many combinations, their changes of state orchestrated as a whole.
Vera Kox uses the mobility or even fluidity of these dialogues between the artificiality, utility and realism of the objects to affirm the vibrant and continually changing nature of her sculptures. Similar to artificial extensions woven into or clipped onto hair, her sculptures become extensions of themselves, standing in contrast to the stagnancy and monumentality inherent to this medium. While these spatial experiments infuse life into assemblages that take shape via encounters, chance meetings, friction between materials, textures and colours, their shape defined by an balance of improvisation and skillful control.The elements mostly floor-based, interfere with and react to each other within the limits of the exhibition space, forming a landscape that is both imaginary and entropic.
In Vera Kox’s practice, the formal alliances and chemical alloys prioritise a material that must seek its shape and texture. She is highlighting the divergences between form, material and texture, notably in the use of a vibrant, somewhat playful colour palette one wouldn’t directly associate with the earthy material of clay, as well as in surface textures that contrast with the raw material used. In some of her ceramic works, Vera Kox applies complementary colours to the raw clay before it is fired, fostering an optical vibration that disrupts our immediate comprehension of the material. Simultaneously grating upon and enticing our perception, it makes us want to touch what we see. Haptic perception literally means the ability to grasp something. In this case, it involves an active exploration of surfaces and objects by an active, moving viewer.
Through visual and tasty lures, as when food related elements are evoked in the assemblages, Vera Kox's works invite us to draw upon all of our senses to consider their nutritional and energetic potential; like living organisms, these sculptural installations seem to literally nourish themselves. Her works seem alive, as if animated by a life force. In challenging our ways of living or functioning, these new organic and inorganic physicalities manipulated and agglomerated by Vera Kox seem to anticipate the impacts of our human activities, highlighting relics and traces of our passing as if between brackets.
Text by Marianne Derrien