Space, although you wouldn’t initially think it, is what is explored in Isa Genzken’s latest installation at the ICA. The prolific German sculptor’s little seen canvases adorn, on their own merit, the vast upper galleries. It is at one and the same time a very traditional but also very subversive exhibition. It seems that the only person who wants Genzken’s Basic Research series hung without accompanying 3D works is the ICA’s director, Gregor Muir. These canvases trace the architecture of the body; the studio space of the artist in a crumbling socio-political climate; they project an unimaginable juxtaposition between industrialist late 1980’s Germany and London’s regal Mall; they also, because of all this wholly absorb the viewer into their world.
It is fitting, then, that Leah Capaldi, a young performative (if not quite performance) artist trained in sculpture, should offer a filter through which to view these works. Capaldi is a darling of London’s new school: runner up in 2011’s Catlin Art Prize and exhibited at the ICA for Bloomberg New Contemporaries four years ago, she has been confirmed as Matt’s Gallery’s first solo show artist of 2016. By installing ‘bodies’ into the gallery space – bodies in a medical sense, entities that offer a sense of the uncanny, alien objects that you can embrace to enhance yourself or reject to let your experience crumble – Capaldi’s appropriation of what could be called post-performance either enthrals or repulses you.
2014’s Hung at the Serpentine was a perfectly orchestrated piece of performative sculpture, intelligently programmed into an exhibition which was all the more problematized for Capaldi’s presence. What a gallery tour at the ICA should be is an opportunity to let yourself be shown the exhibition in a new way – in this case it isn’t to be dragged round and told a stale narrative, it is to allow yourself to remove the frame of the gallery and use the frame of Capaldi’s work. What that work will be, however, is unknown to everyone at this stage, fingers crossed it holds up as well as Hung.
Leah Capaldi is an artist based in London.
Artist Tour: Leah Capaldi on Isa Genzken will be at the ICA on 27th August 2015. Click here for more information and to book your place.
[LEAD IMAGE: Leah Capaldi, Hung, 2014. The Serpentine Gallery]