By: Alejandra Monserrat González Romo
Rebecca Warren´s work is diverse, challenging and daring. Perhaps best known for her unfired clay sculptures of female figures, she is distinguished for her risk-taking and the humorous way with which she faces the long, male-dominated tradition of figurative sculpture.
Unfortunately, her exhibition at the Renaissance Society this winter had a dull, abandoned feeling. The student in charge of watching out the room sat lonely, bored and sleepy, as not much happened in that room in terms of visitors. I came in once, looked around, went out, and then came back in an hour later. Nothing had changed. The level of abstraction and simplification of the pieces shown might not be easily digestible for most people.
The exhibition was an eclectic experience that required giving the pieces first, second and third close looks to build connections. Her work has a raw and childish quality that polarizes and even irritates tastes and opinions; people either love it, or hate it. Personally, I didn’t find it compelling, and after spending a fair amount of time trying to read her work, I realized I wasn’t looking at the art anymore, but into my ability or difficulty to build significance around art objects.
As the brochure of the exhibition stated, the show questions if “sculpture can be any and everything, including nothing.” Her work might be perceived as brave and exploratory of the degradation of the established form, but the pieces at this specific exhibition were not particularly original. One might be tempted to read the female body, repeatedly represented and questioned in her work as a classic inspirational subject, as the connecting theme in this show … but it’s a stretch, and even so, suggests a worn out formula for feminism that doesn’t make much of a point.
Most people do not enjoy standing in front of something they do not understand. Here, viewers strain to desperately look for hints of significance in the exhibited objects, but if not successful, they forget about them without looking back. In this exhibition, Warren did give hints of something larger to contemplate, they weren’t enough, or were too hidden, make clear what her artwork is about.
The Renaissance Society, 5811 S Ellis Ave, Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall 418, www.renaissancesociety.org