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David Altmejd

  • Art
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
© David Altmejd. © White Cube (Theo Christelis)
© David Altmejd. © White Cube (Theo Christelis)

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

There’s a vermin problem at White Cube, a proper infestation. Holes have been gnawed in the gallery walls, and droppings have been left scattered across the floor. 

This isn’t a mouse or rat infestation though, it's a sculptural one. David Altmejd has created a cast of biomorphic hybrid beings, a gaggle of humans caught in the process of becoming… rabbits, and the gallery has been invaded.

Upstairs, a bare-chested figure has gouged a hole in the ground, digging up the very clay it seems to have made itself out of. Its chest is human, all flimsy skin and bone, but its face is big-cheeked like a rodent, and emerging from its head is a pair of huge, glistening ears.

Downstairs are dozens of bunny-human-mutants. Some are fully transmogrified, others are only partially mutated, and some have gone badly wrong, with multiple pairs of ears, upside-down faces, missing skulls. It’s like a gallery of failed genetic experiments, specimens on plinths displayed as evidence of scientific research pushed way, way too far. 

It’s actually quite fun, quite funny, and quite silly

Altmejd sees the rabbit or hare as the embodiment of Carl Jung’s trickster archetype: a collective, global character that appears in countless cultures. Hermes, Loki, Bugs Bunny, etc. It’s humanity’s playful, naughty, deviant unconscious, and it has been brought to life and manifested here in clay. Crystals appear in multiple works too, conduits of some magical power. And then there’s toothpaste everywhere… but that’s probably because, you know, rabbits, teeth. 

But with the setting, the ideas, the whole vibe of the show, it all feels like it wants to be overthought and taken incredibly, painfully, dourly seriously. And that’s a shame, because it’s  actually quite fun, quite funny, and quite silly, but those are things which art just aren’t meant to be. Sometimes, a gallery asks you to take sculptures of humans with rabbit ears and boobs seriously, and you just have to stand your ground, you know? 

Lots of the sculptures are beautifully made, the glitchy figures with too many faces are great, and more than anything there’s an aura of threat and violence here, like these specimens are waiting for you to turn your back so they can dig their enormous teeth into your neck and turn you too into a rabbit. Pretty hare-raising. 

Eddy Frankel
Written by
Eddy Frankel


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