Review: Magali Reus, “Quarters”

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin.

Uniting a play on scale with quirky interior-versus-exterior artifacts, Magali Reus’s exhibition “Quarters” showcases two meticulously produced and heterogeneous series. On low-lying plinths, the series “In Place of” (all works 2015) consists of thematic floor sculptures cast from street curbs and adorned with miniaturized, domestic, or found objects, taking on the appearance of architectural models for city planning. For example, In Place of (Cross Bite) features one curb section, painted white, that sits on a platform of perforated steel. The sculpture includes a line of jagged toothy squares set upright in an l shape, spelling out the words “cross bite,” while enlarged dental brackets for braces are affixed to a rounded section of the curb’s edge. Carved into the flat road surface below, darkened intersecting lines mimic both orthodontic archwire and street maps, around which casually rest a couple of bottomless tea mugs and slices of lemon, both made from resin. Anonymous elements of public architecture are suddenly anthropomorphized, with used, quotidian objects becoming their characterizing appendages.

In the sculpture In Place Of (Appetites), a white grill takes on a dual life as a barbecue with molten cups and also a dish rack for an array of cast and decoratively painted dishes, spanning the foot of the dark green curb. Steel spatulas with laser-cut shapes and phrases like “4am” or “6.15pm” are scattered about amongst broken pieces of cinder blocks and butterfly illustrations from generic toilet paper are printed onto a corner of the plinth beneath. Here, eating rituals, resourcefulness, and abject desperation are put on display, as nameless street corners become emblematic circuits of human survival.

On the walls hang “Leaves,” a series of oversized padlock sculptures with the dimensions of human busts, each named after a Gregorian calendar month. These works protrude perpendicularly, often showing their unsung encasement on one side, and the elaborate interior workings on the other. The shackles on most of the works are left open and foreshortened, the complex locking mechanisms frozen in action. Imprinted words, letters, and numbers allude to the chosen month. The curbs serve as archeological agents, bearing traces of human life, while the locks stand guard—their layered mechanisms like geological strata, capturing and securing events to which they’ve borne witness over time.

First published in Modern Painters, September 2016: Print. 
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