Roxy Paine, "Denuded Lens"

Art, Sculpture Free
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There’s something uncanny about a familiar object replicated in a foreign material, which is why the technique has been a familiar staple of sculptural production over the past 40-odd years. Paine is a relatively recent practitioner of the form, having exhibited since 1990. His subjects have included trees, boulders, fungi, paint drips, machinery and the human circulatory system, often mounted as installations or combined into surreal juxtapositions. His mediums have been equally diverse, ranging from resin to stainless steel. For his latest show, he turns to carved wood.

The centerpiece is a full-scale replica in blond maple of a TSA airport security checkpoint, exact to the smallest detail: X-ray machine, conveyor belt, metal detector, bins for your belongings, even waste baskets. The whole shebang is situated in a diorama-style space separated from the viewer, with the floor of the work vertiginously tilting upward front to back. Open doors on either side of the rear lead to unseen rooms—presumably holding cells for those unlucky enough not to pass muster. The entire scene is lit by a bank of recessed florescent lights, giving it a washed-out, ghostly pallor.

There are other, smaller works here—a chain saw mounted by a bullhorn, a half-finished pinball game—but mired in gee-whiz craftsmanship, they seem more wooden, pardon the pun, than the main event. The TSA piece manages to transcend its trompe l’oeil legerdemain to summon the image of a world haunted by its own paranoia.—Howard Halle



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