Liz Magor — Xhilaration


Installation, photography, sculpture, mixed media

Liz Magor

Past: September 5 → October 26, 2019

Liz magor 14 1 grid Liz Magor — Galerie Marcelle Alix Présentée du 05 septembre au 26 octobre à la galerie Marcelle Alix, Liz Magor développe un œuvre qui s’attache à repenser les liens... 2 - Bien Critique

Someone asked me once a simple question an absurdly simple question and I gave an absurdly simple answer ‘‘what’s an artist’’ he asked and I said ‘‘somebody who does the best he can’’ by now I’ve said this so many times I’ve begun to believe it because when you think about it there are very few people in this world that do the best they can.

David Antin, I never knew what time it was. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005, p.49

I love swimming. I have no skills, but I swim for a long time, preferably in the open-air. My favourite moment is when the sun hides giving way to the ‘‘white’’ tranquillity — this tranquillity that produces no sparkling, no distraction and that takes me back to the infinite smoothness of water.

Those days, I have more endurance and the inertia fluidifies not only the movements of the body but thinking itself, leading it here and there. First towards the animal world — thinking watches out for reality, it lands on its different dimensions like a bird. Then comes the moment when it draws its sources from different temporalities, according to the human mind, ending up getting attached to an overall organisation that thinking deciphers, this time, without great effort.

In such moments, I think about works of art and I change my already very privileged position as a spectator as I can touch them. I am no longer in front of them, but with them, within their deep interiority, wherein the artist’s desire, the constraints of materials and a shared reverie merge.

In the midst of water (in water, one is always in the midst), I am often with artworks. Lately, it is with the works of Liz Magor — which are at once supporting and supported— that my session experienced a small excess of dazzlement. Since I discovered this work in 2013, I have always felt well next to these castings of cardboard boxes, playing the part of ’sculptures from underneath’ for ’exhibited’ objects, which are most often commercially produced and specific in materialising the artist’s ongoing journeys between her studio and the world.

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Liz Magor, Vue de l’exposition Liz Magor, Xhilaration à la galerie Marcelle Alix, Paris, 2019 © Slash-Paris, 2019

These handmade boxes (that a couple of frantic minimalists would like to contemplate alone) create connections with unlikely relics (synthetic bestiaries, taxidermy birds, clothes, magazines, etc) whose value is above all affective. Their display enables a transfer of affection, a way of contaminating all those who never have time to come close to a work of art. Liz Magor’s sculptures are not about image-making. If one accepts to be confronted to them, then one is prepared to try and remember that the object always recounts a gap which is simultaneously materialised and concealed.

These sculptures lead us to comical and funerary visions generated by subtle chains (not to say assemblies) — among which one of the most remarkable is, in my view, Drinks around the world (2017), a sculpture that defies gravity with humour. Here, a stuffed dog flexibly adopts the slightly battered shape of box that is almost matching. Its very elongated, fore limbs are hanging in the air, not limply but thoughtfully since they are holding — thanks to the welding of invisible velcro placed at the end of the padded hands —, a plastic bag that is cautiously filled with alcohol miniatures.

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Liz Magor, Vue de l’exposition Liz Magor, Xhilaration à la galerie Marcelle Alix, Paris, 2019 © Slash-Paris, 2019

Swimming allows me to better feel this vision as I regularly stretch out my arms. I think about the moment when the hand finds a stowing opportunity, while the rest of the body floats, carried by the current created by the swimming pool’s filtering system and, more likely, by the feeling that one needs a good enough reason to get out. That’s exactly it — an equilibrium that is endlessly extended, the equilibrium of masses or a mime game to narrate a vision of the world unified through dependence.

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Liz Magor, Vue de l’exposition Liz Magor, Xhilaration à la galerie Marcelle Alix, Paris, 2019 © Slash-Paris, 2019

Liz’s personal museum already has its boxes and they are numerous. Many of them play with transparency effects unlike the castings made from polymerised gypsum that I like very much for their carved rock aspect or polychrome stele with striking iridescent effects. It has been clear to me since the start that this work shares the same taste for funerary banquets as ancient Egypt.

Liz’s pieces do not fight against time, they translate peaceful affects and explore the separation of things yet with a possible link. I also believe in this link. And when I look at the alignment of unpacked boxes, sorts of “Time Capsules” with multiple identities, containing clothes (or shoes, like Xhilaration, 2019) or rather one should say in the language of fashion, silhouettes, I see in them generations that time has not separated.

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Liz Magor, Xhilaration. Vue de l’exposition Liz Magor, Xhilaration à la galerie Marcelle Alix, Paris, 2019 © galerie Marcelle Alix, 2019 — Photo : Aurélien Mole

I imagine the outfit that I could wear or that is already awaiting me, as well as that of my friends. Meanwhile, I don’t forget that I am swimming in a box without a clock nearby.

Liz Magor

Born in 1948, she lives in Vancouver (Canada). An important artist of the Canadian scene, she participated to a number of group shows at the Vancouver Art Gallery, National Art Gallery in Ottawa, Seattle Art Museum, Wattis Institute, to Documenta 8 and to the Venice Biennale. Triangle Marseille reintroduced her work to Europe in 2013 (cur. Céline Kopp) and in 2017, her retrospective which was initiated by Musée d’Art Contemporain in Montreal toured at Migros Museum Zurich, Kunstverein in Hamburg and MAMAC in Nice. She was a resident at DAAD in Berlin in 2017-2018. This year, her solo-show, BLOWOUT, was presented at the The Renaissance Society, Chicago and at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge.

The publication BLOWOUT will be released on September 28th at the gallery at the occasion of Marcelle Alix’s Salon #5.

Cécilia Becanovic (translation : Callisto McNulty)
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75020 Paris

T. 09 50 04 16 80 — F. 09 55 04 16 80


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The artist

  • Liz Magor