Jill Spector’s tall, pale and bulbous sculptural assemblages coyly court anthropomorphism. Variously crafted from chicken wire, wood, plaster, pillows, papier-mâché, inkjet prints and photocopies, the freestanding works rise from the floor like figures distorted by the elements: swollen by water, bleached by the sun, their parched-white plaster surfaces seemingly encrusted with salt. Despite the wan palette of the dominant components, many of the works have a peculiar carnivalesque quality, like a strange marriage of jumbled and orderly assemblages by, respectively, Rachel Harrison and Thea Djordjadze.
Sculpture Wears the Pants: A Common Mixture (2010) features a steel-and-wood frame over which grows, vinelike, a series of pale, protuberant shapes made from plaster, pillows and cardboard. Interspersed among these organic volumes—which conjure Franz West in both their wit and form—are some curious appendages: a long piece of bearded wheat (suggesting a farmer, lost in thought, who might chew on the straw) and a rolled-up photo print (conjuring the industrious art student who might carry it). The work is indicative of the Los Angeles-based artist’s darkly comic and yet persuasively poetic sensibility, as well as the art historical and feminist concerns that inform her larger oeuvre.
To that end, the abstract sculpture Chorus 2/3 (2010) alludes not just to the figure but, in its traditional presentation atop a pedestal, to the figure in art history. The work’s attenuated, biomorphic white forms rest on a cobbled-together, lopsided plywood plinth, itself sitting in the middle of a large color photograph that lies on the floor. The picture shows an overhead view of a circle of women holding aloft a mostly obscured black-and-white photographic print, through which their hands—each painted a single bright hue—burst like a Crayola bouquet. Chorus 2/3’s subversion of traditional sculptural display is a delight, even as the work’s meaning remains hidden.
The twinned history of photography and sculpture is long and deep, and so the central role that photography plays in Spector’s sculptural practice is unsurprising. The photos she takes of all her works are not mere documents, however, but autonomous works in their own right. A new, untitled triptych, for example, features color photocopies on wood. In each gorgeous, deeply hued image, the diminutive artist is partially visible behind and among her own sculptures, photographs and studio materials, which adorn her like so many bizarre garments. Spector has made costumes for fellow L.A. artist Marnie Weber, and has herself performed as well; if this performative aspect of her practice comes to the fore in her photographs, it also bears fruit in her sculptures, which, with their excess of form and material, seem ever on the edge of animation.
Photo: Jill Spector: Chorus 2/3, 2010, wood, wire, plaster and mixed mediums, 50 by 24 by 24 inches; at BolteLang.