Krysten Cunningham: The Field
Apr 6 - May 20, 2006
Krysten Cunningham: The Field

Krysten Cunningham: The Field

Ritter/Zamet is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in the UK of LA-based artist, Krysten Cunningham.

Krysten Cunningham’s primary pursuit is to seduce the viewer with an exquisitely visceral and tactile surface before drawing them into a multi-layered dialogue of context and concept. Combining sculpture and theatre/video, she creates both a static and time-based investigation into physicality, alternating spatial perspectives as well as basic modes of intellectual and scientific perception. Cunningham’s artworks embody a material imprint of memory where traces of light, sound, movement, volume, and texture as well as ideas are crystallized into a central locus to anchor us within the constantly shifting and volatile frame of time and space—much like the gravitational field that holds all earthly forms in their place.  

Her meticulously hand-executed woven wool sculptures resemble bizarre monochrome and prismatic satellites aspiring to some essential condition of communication. As she incorporates a combination of colour-schemes drawn from native-American textiles along with clear allusions to Russian Constructivism and the hard-edged geometries of Minimalism, the physical space is transformed into a mythical one—an arena for subjective identification. The sculptures appear, as Lauri Firstenberg describes in her review of THING: New Sculpture from Los Angeles at the UCLA Hammer Museum, as: “crafty, yarn-heavy Modernist totems” that “signal [ ] an artistic inclination towards accumulation, collection and fetish.” (Frieze 92, 2005, p.163)

The conceptual basis of Cunningham’s sculpture also adheres to the strong tradition of women artists who have used the feministically charged media of stitching, embroidering or weaving within their work. Looking to artists such as Rosemarie Trockel, Louise Bourgeois and, more recently, Tracey Emin, Cunningham also questions the distinction between craft and fine arts as well as their mutual corruption. At the same time, Cunningham manipulates the weaving process for its purely ocular qualities with all the tensile fragility and elegance of a Vija Celmins spider-web painting.

Cunningham’s theatrical performance and subsequent video piece, Untitled Play,…about Gravity, 2005/06 (30 minutes, with sound), was initially performed live with professional actors in a parking lot on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Set at sundown within an atmospheric, continuously darkening milieu, it explores different concepts of gravity – pagan, scientific, profane, and futuristic – with the help of moving and interacting historical and emblematic contemporary characters including a shamanic narrator, Isaac Newton and Virginia Woolf, a homeless man, a musician and a basketball player along with “shadows” from the past and future. By interweaving these appropriated fragments of history with extensive references ranging from art history to mathematical and physical theory to popular culture and cinematic sensationalism, she presents a complex meditation on notions of myth and fantasy and their consistent gravitational pull over our imagination.