September 15 – November 14, 2020
I AM SHE is the most comprehensive show by Liliane Lijn outside the UK, featuring work from 1969 to the present day.
Over the past six decades, Liliane Lijn (American, lives and works in London) has created a strikingly diverse and visually arresting body of work. Lijn’s art is the direct visual, sensory, plastic outcome of her explorations and mining of inner and outer bodily phenomena, things huge and microscopic, inside and around us, difficult to nail down. What she wants is to get into and bring out such invisible forces; as much as her quest is solitary and personal, the works are not projections of the artist—or of anyone’s self.
“I don’t feel that I am necessarily an artisan but perhaps more an inventor. I think I can compare it to the difference between a research scientist and a technician. I am not terribly interested in making the object, but I have to, in order to see my invention.”
In order to “see” her inventions, Lijn has experimented widely and wildly across mediums and materials, notably, incorporating machinery, light, and language in her work. Her North London studio is a place for speculation but also a site for testing, a research center, a lab.
On view in the main gallery, Linear Light Column (1969) is a rotating cylinder wound in enameled copper wire—once the main material used for telecommunication.
On the walls are two large works on paper, Her Water Self and Inner Bird Portrait and the tryptic Transformation of the Bride in the Medusa (1987).
A selection of sculptural works created since the 1980’s is displayed on the podium.
Two “Beaded Heads,” studies for a new a new kind of female head, and the “Torn Heads,” in which soft blown glass is combined with bronze, aluminium, feather dusters, and other materials. Later sculptural pieces like She Me Skin of the Tree (1999) and Nested Foot (2001) integrate discernible body parts—casts of the artist’s own body.
In the second room, Feathered Lady (1979) and Heshe (1980) are breathtaking in their formal and material appearances: 2-meter tall, these humanoid totems are ambiguously gendered through the use of feather dusters, piano wires, synthetic fibers.
Both are topped by tank periscope prisms. Prisms are recurrent in Lijn’s oeuvre: they energize white light, splitting it into its spectral colors, making energy visible.
Next, the exhibition premieres the most recent of Lijn’s inventions. In Catastrophic Encounters (2019-20), molten glass is poured onto a mica metal compound called Vapourshield, cratering its surface, bubbling like lava, becoming fossils.
Shrouded in half light, The Bride (1988) is a massive mixed-media performing sculpture that collapses myth, technology, industry, and nature. Enclosed in a black cage, this female archetype is a towering presence made of epoxy-bonded mica, ostrich feathers, blown glass, and lacquered papier-mâché balls. In darkness, she pulsates with light.
“The Bride is an erotic otherness already contaminated with the vapors of death. The Bride, like a rainbow, is a bridge between two states of being . . . The Bride is a caged being pulsating with repressed energy.”
I AM SHE has received generous support from Nicoletta Fiorucci Russo, Emily King and Matthew Slotover.
– Excerpt from Ordet’s press release
Photos: Stephen Weiss, Nicola Gnesi
Courtesy of Ordet, Milan