Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is pleased to present a site-specific solo presentation by Haim Steinbach for the ADAA Art Show 2015. Long admired as among the most important artists of his generation, Steinbach explores the human process of selection, arrangement, and display by conceptualizing the placement of objects from a variety of contexts onto shelving units, which range from handmade shelves to modular building systems.
For the art fair, the gallery's booth has been reconfigured using exposed wall supports and wall board, compelling the viewer to consider the concept of architecture as related to objects, surface and the human body. Here Steinbach underscores how architecture functions as the connective tissue that structures the experience of our surroundings, beginning from person to object and floor to wall. In Steinbach’s view, “The surface of walls and objects is a cultural material – it’s a language that speaks of how we construct and perceive our surroundings.” For example, the free-standing stud walls can be seen as architectural fragments that guide the way we view our everyday world thereby generating an awareness of objects and our own bodies. In particular for Steinbach, architecture suggests a more expansive concept than its normative use.
In relation to this architectural structure, Steinbach presents sculptures that function both as inter-related elements and independent works. Shelf with Globe is an early bricolage shelf with a standard globe, made in 1980 after the artist’s landmark 1979 exhibition at Artists Space. The wood shelf is constructed with an arrangement of cut wood fragments, given a specific identity by skins of wallpaper and contact paper added to select pieces. Atop the shelf, the globe object itself plays between ideas of representation and reality, its colorful mapped contours suggesting our imagined view of the world. Here, the projection of one’s imagination is mirrored by the objects - shelf and globe, home and world. This presentation of Shelf with Globe highlights the linkages between Steinbach’s early work and the artist’s newest construction of the box pieces and the booth itself.
Among these new works, the display of singular objects continues to develop threads that run throughout Steinbach’s practice, including the transformative activation of objects through their display, the influence of context on an object’s meaning, and the psychological and physical relationship of the viewer to an artwork. For example, Untitled (house) is a direct reference to architecture, citing the house as a manmade construct, a physical place that connotes security and protection from elements. Engaging our curiosity further is Untitled (candle), which plays upon ideas of representation and contingency with an object whose state can shift between liquid and solid. Furthermore, the specific form of the candle—a tree stump—is not only a representation of the tree, but also evokes the ecological discourse on the state of the planet. Other works are related to the body such as Untitled (belt), containing an object whose function implies tightness, constriction, and the contour of a figure’s waist. With its perplexing arrangement of bodily elements, Untitled (boy) includes a much-loved toy that points to ambiguous, even androgynous, qualities of the body; ideas which are echoed in swimmer, depicting a reoriented mannequin floating suspended by the altered gravity of an implied aqueous environment.
Steinbach was born in 1944 in Rehovot, Israel and has lived in New York since 1957. Following his historic exhibition at Artists Space in 1979, Steinbach has exhibited internationally at institutions including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna; CAPC musée d'art contemporain, Bordeaux; The Menil Collection, Houston, and others. A solo exhibition titled once again the world is flat, organized by the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College in 2013 recently traveled to The Serpentine Galleries, London and the Kunsthalle Zurich in 2014.