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It’s partly because Altmejd dares to take the logically unexpected
combination into the most unlooked-for places that his work causes
such a jolt. He declares a lasting interest in the work of Kiki Smith and
Louise Bourgeois, but mentions that, with Smith for example, while her
works are ‘always extremely powerful… they’re very familiar in terms of
experience’. It takes some nerve to describe Smith’s work as familiar, but
you can see how Altmejd comes to this conclusion when you realise
that his ongoing exploration is driven by a focus on how constantly
to extend the possibilities of the unfamiliar, through the contagious
incorporation of wildly dissimilar contents and approaches.
That’s why, for example, much of his recent work seems to
hover between object and installation: his large constructed stages
and platforms, which present and incorporate his myriad organic and
fetishistic forms, seem to use the language of exhibition presentation,
or of luxury boutique display. Yet Altmejd is clear that they should be
seen as parts of a whole that is, in the end, a more diverse and complex
unit of sculpture. Instead of installation, he considers the arrangement
of the many smaller parts and discrete combinations of objects as
following something that is somehow closer to the logic of a film,
as if one might follow, within the bounds of the bigger object, multiple
lines of connection and continuity to produce a narrative that
doesn’t operate in ordinary time, but as a product of looking, and then
looking again.
Altmejd’s work is a sort of ecstatic celebration of the moment
in which anything is in between two states. The moment between life
and death, the moment between human and animal, the moment
between stasis and continuity, the moment between sculpture and
installation, between art and object. So, just as the werewolf epitomises
mutability and transition within the scope of what human identity could
be, Altmejd’s recurring use of mirrors develops the theme of instability
and reversal in the scope of architectural and non-organic form. In
his early 1999 table-box sculpture Loup-garou 1 [werewolf], Altmejd
presents the werewolf’s decapitated head lying in a little mirror-lined
zero.linzero.lin ARTREVIEW
p076-082 David Altmejd AR Jun07.81 81 10/5/07 00:19:52
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