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|Bettina Buck, Plinth Drawing I, 2012 Cardboard, gum strip tape, Dimensions variable|
Through her practice Bettina Buck explores the elemental properties of sculpture – gravity, weight, surface, absence. The materials that she employs are most often of this world and selected for their transient properties – foam, bronze, stone, concrete, cardboard. Her work often consists of dependent or mutual relationships, whether that is the spectator, another artist, the surrounding space or other work. Other binaries are at play throughout her practice such as natural and artificial, high and low, absence and presence, monstrous and idyllic.
The performative aspect of Buck’s practice is evident in the verbs and states used to articulate the work - press, fold, fall, prove, hang – and alludes to a history of artists who understood sculpture within a momentary register and who emphasised the processes that produced the work.
Buck’s installation at Art Basel Hong Kong, 2014 incorporates Plinth Drawings 2, which looks to a particular moment in Modernism when the plinth disappeared and set a precedent for Minimalism and Performance art. The work revisits a group of eight Rodin sculptures – more specifically the plinths upon which they sit - on permanent display at The Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Historically plinths support and monumentalise art history’s heroes elevating them from this world and in doing so augmenting our own mortality. Rendered in cardboard and to scale, Buck’s plinths are unmonumental. Stacked on top of each other and turned on their sides they are precarious and unable to support or mediate individual figures. Instead they themselves perform, are forms in their own right that hold a particular relationship with the physical and conceptual space they inhabit and the viewer they engage.
Atop the cardboard pedestals are small-scale 1:15 versions; constructed in bronze they nod to art history and the tradition of the model in art and architecture. However there is a sense of the absurd in the tension between the two scales and the historically revered bronze being reduced in scale and sat upon replica’s of the original plinths executed in expendable cardboard. In the same breath the plinth upon a plinth may bring Manzoni’s upturned plinth, Socle du Monde, which held the world on its bearing surface, to mind.
Site specificity is never a strategy in Buck’s practice nor is it a form of Institutional critique, but rather a structural or contextual marker. Space Insert / red line (V&A) is a large-scale print, in this instance, on fabric, that references the museum, but rather than the regular face of the institution we are presented with a ‘behind the scenes’ view, or a space in transition. The performative aspect of architecture emerges through its physical in-betweenness. However, space is flattened, not only in the content of the work, but also through the pixelation of the image and the red stripe that brings the real into the realm of the object.
Other works in the installation include Inside corners (beautified) a series of fired clay imprints of various corners of the museum. These small abstract objects signify the spatial context of the V&A transposed to Hong Kong, they mark time and place and within the context of the installation become part of a larger dialogue about materiality, signification, process and sculpture.
Bettina Buck’s film Interlude has been selected by Li Zhenhua, director and founder of Beijing Art Lab, for Art Basel Film. The Film sector of the fair presents an exciting program of films by and about artists. Screenings take place in the agnès b. cinema at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Interlude will be part of the Performance and Fiction Mix on Saturday 17.04.2014, 19.00 – 20.30 at the agnès b. cinema at the Hong Kong Arts Centre.
Bettina Buck (born 1974, Cologne) studied at the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne before completing an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. Recent exhibitions include MOTOR: Bettina Buck invites Marie Lund, at Spacex, Exeter. The exhibition marked the fourth and last in a series of exhibitions where the artist invited other artists into a close dialogue to explore common or shared interests. She will be included in To Continue. Notes towards A Sculpture Cycle at The Nomas Foundation in Rome in June this year. Other recent institutional exhibitions include The Secret Life of Things, at Kai10, Dusseldorf, 2013 and A House of Leaves, The David Roberts Art Foundation, London, 2013. The gallery presented an installation with Buck as part of Statements, Art Basel, Switzerland in 2010.