Sunday, July 31, 2011

Was ist los?

Helmut Lang -- yes that Helmut Lang -- at  
Make it Hard - organized by Neville Wakefield

Helmut Lang walked away from the fashion empire that still bears his name in 2005. He moved to East Hampton, regrouped and has now emerged in his latest iteration: visual artist. Showing now at The Fireplace Project in Springs, Austrian-born Lang has eviscerated some 6000 of his own iconic fashion statements and repurposed the shreds into totemic sculptures, 16 of which are on view here.

The columns stand like sentinels throughout the two main galleries while video documentation grinds away on a flat screen television in the front room. In it, garment after garment is sucked into the teeth of a bulk-load shredder and pulverized into the raw material that will eventually become these columnar forms. The scraps -- bits of fur, fiber, plastic and hair --  are mixed with a binder and extruded through pipes to emerge as something that looks pretty much like gigantic standing bratwursts. They are Nietzschean, visceral and not so vaguely intestinal. The belly of the fashion beast?

But standing in front of these floor to ceiling extrusions, they have a hypnotic presence; one that is beautiful in the way decay is beautiful. Ambiguous, hermetic and in some strange way -- regenerative -- the totems read like a testament of sorts. An ashes to ashes manifesto. The ways in which art is restorative are pretty endless. Definitely worth a trip uptown.

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