Working from decades-old snapshots, German artist Martin Honert has meticulously handcrafted life-size sculptures of his boarding-school teachers. Each figure is shaded with grainy textures, making them look like vintage photographs brought to three-dimensional life. Enticing and enigmatic, they evoke the teacher/child relationship as essentially one-way.
Apart from prompting us to marvel at how Honert used sand, glass and polyurethane to achieve his remarkable effects, the sculptures beg to be typecast. The tall, rumpled character on the left looks like the PE instructor, while the older, stiffly posed man on the right definitely teaches math. For the most part, they avoid eye contact, except for one petite woman in a floral print dress, tilting her head and pursing her lips.
Honert’s sculptures differ substantially from Duane Hanson’s hyperrealistic renditions of everyday people. Totems of recall, they’re more akin to Thomas Demand’s photographic re-creations of historically fraught settings made out of paper. Along with Honert’s dollhouse-sized replica of his boyhood dorm room, these works are less about the past than about how certain individuals can hold sway over the mind of a child, even into adulthood.—Merrily Kerr