I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...
The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...
Mandy El-Sayegh. Photo: Abtin Eshraghi. Image via L'OFFICIEL.
With the impending winter melancholy yet awaiting behind glitter-laden holiday vitrines and a few illusively warm afternoons, art galleries contribute to the season's festivities with ambitious solo exhibitions, showcasing the newest by art world key players and emerging talents. Bookended by the fall's back-to-school shows and Art Basel Miami, which will haul the global art-goers to American south in early December, Chelsea galleries burst with delights to discover.
Nina Beier's multimedia installations, performative sculptures, and static assemblages incorporate everyday objectsinto theatrical still lifes which examine the cultural symbolism embedded in them.
Beier often manipulates her subject's materiality by exposing its fragility or durability. China (2016), for example, comprises a porcelain vase and porcelain dog with large, jagged holes cut into them; for the installation Ruin (2018), the artist moulded soap into bricks and laid them across the floor among bugs and dirt.
Beier also pairs valuable and disposable items to spark conversations between them. In the sculpture Real Estate #01 (2013), an office chair headrest is inserted into a tall, white granite plinth, while in the installation FOOD CHAIN CAFE (2018), French baguettes are draped over marble lion statues and stuffed through imitation watches and bracelets. Commonplace articles appear together in unexpected ways, such as the hand-rolled cigars that replace drainpipes of ceramic sinks in Plug (2018), or the human hair wigs laid flat on picture frames in Feathered chocolate jagged glam (2014) or Layered Side-Swept Ombre (2015).
The bizarre arrangement of objects in Beier's work often warrants a double-take. In Allegory of charity (2015), for instance, a ceramic cup floats impossibly in the air—seemingly defying gravity—held up only by the stream of coffee beans that are being poured from the receptacle. For Anti-ageing—a performance piece at Swiss Institute, New York, produced for Performa 15 in 2015—Beier used a trained dog to lie still in a luxury suite display. Only the subtle movement of the dog's chest betrayed the illusion that it was not real. She also hired performers to complete various time-dependent domestic activities in the suite, such as smoking a packet of cigarettes, drying a facial mud mask, and waiting for vegetables to ripen. Further blurring the line between life and its image, Beier placed webcams, monitors, and green screens in the gallery to allow visitors to digitally transpose themselves into 'living still lifes'.
For the performance The Complete Works, staged at London's Tate Modern in 2012, Beier invited three retired dancers to enact every piece of choreography they had ever learnt in the chronological order. Following the performers' individual lives and the history of choreography through their moves, Beier drew attention to the fact that daily life, whether involving a banal activity or poetic movement, cannot exist outside the rigid regime of time.
Beier graduated from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2004, and has held solo exhibitions internationally, notably at The Downer, Berlin (2018); Metro Pictures, New York (2015); Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp (2015); David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2014); and Glasgow Sculpture Studios (2013). She has also participated in group exhibitions at Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2014); Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2013); and Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013), among others. Beier's work has been included in the Lyon Biennale (2015) and the Biennale of Sydney (2016).
Beier lives and works in Berlin.
Metro Pictures presents a selection of new work by Berlin-based artist Nina Beier in her second exhibition at the gallery. Beier's work unfolds the histories enmeshed with serially produced objects and materials. She is drawn to those that have continually mutated and evolved as a result of transcultural exchange, reflecting on the fluctuating value assigned to them throughout the world at different times in history. The artist's work offers space to contemplate the many and divergent meanings embedded and projected onto these objects. For example, her sculptural arrangements equally consider the cigar as handmade object, historically traded good, and symbol of power; they exist between an object, its representation, and our interpretation of it.
The eponymously titled series Baby comprises large waterbed mattresses suspended from the wall. Filled with pebbles, coins and water, the large membranes tensely bulge and sag, suggesting their 'water may break.' In the series Plug, bathroom sinks sit on the floor and hang from the walls of the gallery, stuffed with cigars that have been hand-rolled to fit perfectly and suggestively into their drain pipe openings.
Beier engenders dialogue between her chosen materials. Grand marble lions and beard trimmings, Mars bars and slabs of asphalt freshly cut from the street come together to create conversations in which material properties and sociopolitical baggage talk in circles. The works on view in Baby test how value is both constructed and undone, allowing a myriad of non-hierarchical interpretations.
Beier's collaborative project Wintry Mix, with John Miller, is on view through January 18 in the windows of NYU's 80WSE Gallery, located on Broadway and Washington Square Park. Her one-person exhibition Food Chain Café at Kunstforeningen GL Strand in Copenhagen is open through January 20.
Previous one-person exhibitions include Spike Island, Bristol, United Kingdom; Kunstverein, Munich; Kunstverein Hamburg; David Roberts Art Foundation, London; Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp; Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland; Nottingham Contemporary, United Kingdom; Mostyn, Llandudno, United Kingdom; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. Beier has been represented in exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; Yuz Museum, Shanghai; Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland; CCA Wattis, San Francisco; Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Artists Institute, New York; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; and the Power Station, Shanghai.
Her performance-installation Anti-ageing was commissioned by Performa 15 and staged at the Swiss Institute, New York, and then reprised as part of ICA London's Art Night in 2016. That same year her work was included in the 13th Biennale de Lyon and the 20th Biennale of Sydney. Beier is the recipient of Germany's prestigious Prize of the Böttcherstraße.
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