There aren’t many provocative works at this year’s Frieze New York, which on the one hand is a reprieve, given that dealers sometimes resort to shock tactics as cheap stunts, and on the other is a disappointment, since business-as-usual can grow boring. Two new sculptures by Cajsa von Zeipel, however, deliver a pleasant jolt at Company Gallery’s booth.
In recent years, von Zeipel has developed a following for her silicone sculptures, which often feature übercool young people arranged in contortions that seem vaguely sexual. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that these people, most of whom appear to be women or femmes, are represented in the buff. Baroque and camped-up, these sculptures recently got von Zeipel a show at the Rubell Collection, which is known for minting stars who go on to achieve wider fame.
(Company has supported von Zeipel almost from the get-go, however, showing her since 2014. Von Zeipel is married to Sophie Mörner, the gallery’s founder.)
The bigger of the two works at Company’s Frieze booth is Post Me, Post You (2022), a sculpture that features four people cavorting atop a memory foam mattress. The gigantic piece is intense in its maximalism, a tendency that extends to its list of materials, which runs nearly a full paragraph. Among the things von Zeipel enlisted for this work are hookah parts, a Yeezy shoe, horse sunshades, dirt bike helmets, and, naturally, several butt plugs.
All the figures in this sculpture have at least one camera lens attached to them; one even has a projector strapped to its body that casts alliterative textual phrases (“some slovenly smell,” for instance) onto a nearby wall.
Do you like to watch? Go ahead. Von Zeipel seems to underline viewers’ voyeuristic tendencies—and to revel in them, offering up a sex-positive, queer universe in which intimacy need not go hidden.
Post Me, Post You contains a transhuman quality that’s also seen in the other work on view, Celesbian Terrain (2022), a life-size female figure wearing a puffer coat and gripping a bar attached to the wall. Locks of hair are cast against the wall, creating wisps that look like Medusa’s snakes, and her chic outfit holds several stuffed-animal puppies. The titular neologism refers to a queer female celebrity; the glamorousness of von Zeipel’s sculpture suggests that this is an elite woman worth paying attention to.
These two sculptures seemed to leave viewers split on their merits. “Too aggressive,” one man said, as a woman sidled up to Celesbian Terrain to get a selfie with it.