West German artist Natascha Sadr Haghighian (b. 1968) investigates modes of perception and the politics of representation in an expansive conceptual practice that includes performance, writing, video, installation and online projects. She is particularly interested in the consumption of visual art – a field the artist identifies as a reflection of its wider socioeconomic context. I can’t work like this (2007) was conceived in response to a gallery’s invitation to feature her work as the sole exhibition in a commercial art fair booth; the piece was intended to mount a tacit assault on a strolling audience of potential buyers.
The work withdraws the traditional art object, at least metaphorically, and leaves only the most ubiquitous tools for art installation, including discarded hammers, a common symbol for labor. The effect is one of a casual abandonment, as though the artist simply walked away, though whether in defeat or triumph is open to interpretation. A sharp one-liner, I can’t work like this functions as an expression of the artist’s frustration at the pressures and parameters of her creative output.
Photographed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City as part of the Storylines Exhibit in 2015.
Ivan Navarro uses electric light as his primary medium, appropriate the austere visual language of Minimalism and imbuing it with political resonance. For Homeless Lamp, the Juice Sucker (2004–05), he built a grocery cart out of fluorescent tubes and, with it, wandered to the gallery-lined streets of Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The luminous sculpture evokes the work of Dan Flavin while also referencing an object commonly repurposed by homeless people for storage and transportation.
Scored to the Mexican revolutionary song “Juan Sin Tierra” (John the Landless), the accompanying documentary video follows Navarro and a friend as they search for public electricity with which to eliminate the sculpture. presenting the artist as a transient figure, Navarro offers a personal allegory for his early attempts to gain access to the New York art world as well as the difficulties faced by migrants in establishing connections with the place to which they have relocated.
Photographed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City during the Storylines exhibit in 2015.
Rachel Harrison (b. 1966) deploys a wide range of influences in her work, combining art-historical and pop-cultural citations with explorations of material, color and form. Her hybrid sculptures enact a range of dialogues — between handcrafted and commercially produced objects, aesthetic and consumer goods, among others — and engage broader social and political histories of exchange.
All in the Family (2012), an upright, top-heavy construction painted deep aubergine, acts as a display mechanism for a bright orange Hoover Vacuum Cleaner. This classic domestic appliance poses as a sculptural artifact or a figure from a retro sitcom, while alluding to Jeff Koons’ seminal 1980s series of encased Hoover Vacuum cleaners.
Photographed at the Guggenheim Museum’s Storylines Exhibit.
Daddy, Daddy (2008) by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, is a sculpture of Walt Disney’s Pinocchio that was originally conceived for the Guggenheim Museum’s group exhibition, theanyspacewhatever (2008 – 2009). Cattelan installed the work in the fountain at the base of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed rotunda, suggesting that hapless puppet has plummeted to his death from the ramps above and drowned.
Though Disney’s Pinocchio eventually finds a happy ending through moral redemption, Cattelan’s puppet is titled with a filial cry for approval or protection that has apparently gone unanswered.
Photographed in the Guggenheim Museum on the final day of their Storylines Exhibit.