From Carrie Miller…
Walk into Agatha Gothe-Snape’s latest show and you’ll be confronted by a pair of seemingly irreconcilable objects: the more imposing of the two is a monumental, minimalist sculpture covered in white epoxy. It appears like an oversized A-4 sheet of paper with a cut in the middle that creates a fold, a base that holds up the tilting object.
By contrast, on the wall is a domestic-sized screen showing a PowerPoint presentation. Unlike the sculpture, this small text work isn’t made from brutal labour but’s generated by digital code.
What animates the relationship between these two strangely different objects is the way in which the content of the video text piece – which describes an off-the cuff recounting of a fight between two modernist sculptors at a party twenty years ago – offers a narrative about the unresolved status of the modernist object.
The weighty arguments about modernism are reflected back in the sculptural object – the work Late Sculpture is heavy, half a tonne of steel. And for all its stillness it is a dangerous work – many artists and their assistants have sustained serious injuries in the making of objects just like this. Yet its beautiful form makes it a monument to the high modernists that created the rigorous sculptures of the past.
This danger, that’s also suggested by the aggressive narrative content of the video piece Heavy Reading (POWERPOINT), is one that reminds us that the modernist arguments of the past might still be worth a fight.
Until May 11
The Commercial Gallery, Redfern.
Pic: Agatha Gothe-Snape, Living Sculpture (white), 2013, 16mm mild steel and two-pack epoxy coating, c. 565 kg, 233.00 x 151.00 x 106.50 cm. Courtesy of the artist and The Commercial, Sydney. (photo credit: Jessica Maurer)