Rob Fischer @ The Whitney's Altria Gallery
When I see an abandoned Toyota pickup truck, oil drum, used water pipes, and a beat up mobile home, I think of Urban waste. Artist Bob Fischer sees people's choices, the decisions many individuals have made in their lives to leave something behind. It's exactly those items he's chosen to re-use giving them new life in his art.
Last night I caught a Whitney Contemporaries educational program lecture at the Whitney Museum at Altria By Artist Rob Fischer and Shamim M. Momin (Branch Director and 2004 Biennial Co-Curator).
The project was commissioned specifically for the Altria Gallery and the great sized sculpture garden atrium of the 42nd street office building. The 7 large sculptures were mostly built on site, and tightly relate concepts of time, mobility, human usefulness, monumentality, birth and re-birth to one another.
The sculpture court, is anchored by 2 giant almost skyscraper feeling towers opposing each other. The 23 foot tall mirror covered green and rust metal garbage dumpster (photo #1) is titled "I bet you think this song is about you, 2005", while the 35 foot high (photo #2) "Your vigor for life appalls me, 2005" is constructed of wood, and white plaster of hallways and closets. Both these monument like pieces while very different in color and material appearance are deeply related. They share common human concepts concerning life cycles, choices, vanity, hubris, and pathways.
The true standout work is in the formal Altria Gallery. This 16 foot tall x 15 foot wide industrial looking sculpture is mostly constructed from chopped up parts of Rob Fischer's previous work "Ten Yards, 2003." It had been exhibited in the 2004 Whitney Biennial where it featured a large steel and glass sided filled garbage dumpster. At the time, it seemed an impressive complete work of art. Now he's sliced, and combined the work with other past projects into a more mature, complex re-born sculpture.
Named: "30 Yards (Minor Tragedies Dissected), 2005" (photo #3) Rob additionally adds in remnants of several of his past exhibition work featuring a mobile home, a glass greenhouse, a cut in half pickup truck bed, a row boat and more. He loosely ties these diverse pieces with metal plumbing in an effort to breath life into this pile of used junk. He succeeds. The sculpture has great tonal qualities, volume and movement. It also seems both solid and yet fragile. The viewer is presented with great abstract shapes and patterns from every side in ways that MOMA's Elizabeth Murray can only hope to attain. But what adds to it's dimension is the material's art history, to know these were items in previous museum works the artist sacrificed to create something new and possibly more complete is refreshing. The viewer can't help but wonder... where and when is this transformation going to end?
Looking at the other works in the show, I look forward to seeing what Rob Fischer does next with these sculptures. The exhibition is only on view till Jan 22nd, and given Rob's propensity to reuse his materials, I can say with certainty it's the last chance you'll have to see these sculptures in this form!