Nancy Koenigsberg: Recent Work
From September 19 through October 28, 2006, Zabriskie Gallery exhibits recent work by Nancy Koenigsberg, in which she continues to investigate the wire grid as a rich sculptural form in a number of small pieces made of woven annealed steel. She exploits relatively simple themes evoked by these cage-like structures to build complicated works that engage the viewer on several levels.
The small-scale, porous wire sculptures, intended to be appreciated with the shadows they cast as a part of the work. The carefully – but not mechanically – entwined pieces continue her alchemical efforts to transform the frail, malleable wire into forms that radiate with dynamism and stability. Here, Koenigsberg defers the issues of motion and tension for a deeper exploration of static forms – an off-kilter globe; two-dimensional grids piled atop one another; house-like pentagonal solids. Present in most is the motif of the grid – sometimes perverted (Cat’s Cradle), sometimes laid simply on the wall like a quilt (Thicket). There is a mathematical element to these semi-organic forms that is distinctly architectural – and indeed, it’s hard to approach House without thinking of a scale model. The Euclidean rigidity of the grid melts and undulates under the pull of the human hand that crafted them. The grid is, in this way not a realization of computation or geometry, but a patterned, contemplative project of human origin.
Though much of Koenigsberg’s work is about abstracted form, these pieces offer easy references to brambles, cages, and metaphorical snares. She toys with the idioms of enclosure, entrapment, and architecture, naming a maze of steel Cat’s Cradle, when it could just as easily have been called Despair. And the steel lines of House calls to mind a prison, while the scale and simple shape force immediate recognition as something quite innocuous – a dollhouse or birdfeeder. The simplicity is what makes the shape so undeniably house-like, and yet placed aside her other more gestural abstractions, they vainly insist on being left unread, left as simple forms.
These simple forms are enriched by light, as shadows on the wall behind create another web of texture and depth. It pushes once more against the grid motif, transforming the cold precision of steel into the hazier lines of shadow. The interaction of shadow with sculpture makes a canvas of the wall, allowing the piece to extend deeper into a theoretical space. The web of annealed steel extends towards the viewer and backwards into an imaginary space. With the houses, there is almost a visual pun on the Platonic conception of form "box," "grid," "irregular pentagon," "house") as an ethereal reality, manifested in crude approximations of the ideal. And so it is with these houses – crude realizations in wire of an iconic, idealized caricature, which is attended by even cruder shadow. Regardless of the dizzying metaphysical analysis one could give, the play of light on these hollow, familiar forms is an elegant visual treat.
Nancy Koenigsberg lives and works in New York. Her work has been exhibited in the American Craft Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, São Paulo; Barbican Art Centre, London; Carnegie Museum, Oxnard, California; Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh; Trenton City Museum, New Jersey; Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art, California; Bibliotheque Forney, Paris; Sint-Truiden, Belgium; University of Hawaii, Hawaii.