An incisive and beautifully installed show by London-based artist Magali Reus was well served by SculptureCenter’s industrial ambience. Titled “Spring for a Ground,” the exhibition consisted of two series of sculptures that look like combination locks and street curbs, titled, respectively, “Leaves” and “In Place of” (both 2015).
The latter series, which might also be considered idiosyncratic still lifes, assembled fragments of the city made from mundane objects, street flotsam, or their facsimiles (cups placed just so, upright steel bars doubling as railings from which wire hangers dangled, slices of partially eaten, translucent bread made from resin, a plastic comb), was presented with surrealistic precision, imposing order on urban tumult. All low to the ground to force the eye downward, these sleekly designed “curbs” were strategically placed, loosely controlling how visitors navigated the space, just as streets, curbs, and traffic do in actuality. They also suggest a domesticity, where the street is also home.
The elegantly constructed locks, mounted in a line on the wall, are also unlike customary locks—here, without anything to lock up. Even more enigmatic, more abstract, they offer less of a narrative than the curbs, with their coiled springs, curious interior numbers and dates. With the mechanistic tempered by traces of the human, both series paradoxically underscore an objecthood in which meaning is set adrift.
A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 81.