Bodily Sculptural Consciousness: Jane South

Part II of a series of shows I’ve seen dealing with body consciousness, Part I being Nick Cave at Jack Shainman.

I first discovered the paper constructions of Jane South a few years back when she was at the Whitney Altria and I fell in love with the mixture of homegrown craft and architectural construction. The delicacy of cut paper combined and formulated to create what would be concrete monumental industrial forms create a tension that is both soft and rigid, abstract and literal, simple and rigorously detailed. It might well be obvious that I am always drawn to works that involve obsessive repetition, in this case the act of cutting over and over, strip after strip of paper, and turning that into an embodied form of artistic expression. Jane South has had a place in my heart for some time now, I hold in high regard her ability to take a process that is seemingly more craft construction than aesthetic production, and I was ecstatic to see a monumental freestanding sculpture smack in the middle of the gallery space.

via Jane South website

via Jane South website

Bigger is better in this new form of freestanding monumentality for the artist, who usually create works installed directly on the wall, heightening the illusionistic quality spurred on by the moire patterns and the immediacy of engaging each piece with its support system of wall and floor. The ability to walk around the entire piece is so much more fitting as she already incorporated roundness to her forms and tacking it on a wall deducts their viewability. This scale and interaction with the body creates a contradictory response of intimacy and distance, combining a nostalgic sentiment stirred by the old forgotten industrial form with an awe invoking engagement between the viewer’s stance and the internal/external presence of the sculpture.


I enjoyed the multicipity of perspective this sculpture provided as I entered the construction elevator-esque form with its conglomeration of multiple industrial fan patterns and marveled at the shadows cast by the cut ridges. I was half expecting certain parts to start rotating and spinning, hamspter wheel fashion, but instead I was slightly haunted by the stillness and ghostly lightness of the interconnected shapes. The pink hue emphasizes the cartoonish and airy aspects of the work, as does the handcrafted marking seems intentionally imperfect and anti-mechanical perfection.


Untitled (Drawing number 1), 2001, 12 x 9 x 2, ink, wax, balsa

A previous work that emphasizes an interest in circles, construction, and contraption. These works speak directly to an insatiable search for order and compulsive consumption, abstract and alternative realities, and the sheer reveling in producing and witnessing the process of cutting, gluing, coloring, and hanging.

I am at a loss for words, there is not much more I can say about the works of Jane South except viewing these three dimensional drawings stir my interests in craft, repetition, abstraction on the verge of reality on the brink of surreality, and physical interaction (in the most unperverse way).


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