German-born artist Josephine Meckseper is a master of commodity culture, employing materials from the worlds of advertising, retail, and industry to create multimedia sculptures and installations.
As the second artist called on to participate in the Herzog and DeMeuron-designed Parrish Art Museum's invitational "Platform" series, Meckseper was asked by curator Andrea Grover to "consider the entire museum as a potential canvas." The space's concrete floors, exposed beams, and overhead skylights, as well as the surrounding beauty of the Hamptons, provide a stark contrast to the industrial objects in Meckseper's work—five large-scale sculptures that spark a dialogue with both the permanent collection and the museum's architecture itself.
Approaching the entrance, visitors encounter two large glass display cases in the open-air foyer. Meckseper explains that she "grew up in a small artist colony in Germany where shops and museums had exterior glass vitrines mixing art and commercial products...there was no distinction." Consequently, Tradition (2013) and Bright Bay Cars/Gratis (2013) are filled with repurposed advertising and homages to Brancusi's Endless Column monument, paired with readymade touchstones of retail, like a mannequin and a wire shoe tree.
Inside, the aggressive industrial motifs are juxtaposed with the field of wild grass that separates the museum from the traffic on nearby Montauk Highway. Sabotage on Auto Assembly Line to Slow It Down (2009) is a commentary on industry and its relationship to war and violence. On a mirrored stage, a chromed-out conveyor belt balancing two tires is flanked by a looping video of car commercials from the Bush era that employ overt military references. A second monitor steadily transmits an image of a shattered screen.
Two of Meckseper's mirrored slat-wall pieces, the same systems used in retail displays, reflect the American obsession with cars as objects of power and desire. An oversize Jeep logo and hanging men's neckties, in a piece titled Crow (2011), allude to car dealerships and other forms of commerce found near the museum. The installation of the eight-by-eight-foot wall piece next to John Chamberlain's Tambourinefrappe (2010) sculpture of crushed chrome-plated steel creates a dialogue about industry in the appropriately named Look and Look Again gallery. In a separate gallery, the red, white, and blue slat wall of Corvette (2011) relates to the colors of an eighties de Kooning, while Dan Flavin's fluorescent installation (1963) casts an industrial glow on the taillight, sunglasses, and chains in Corvette.
Josephine Meckseper's work is on view at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York, through October 14.
—LinYee Yuan. Follow her at @linyee.
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