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,...
Nina Beier (Artist, STANDARD (OSLO), joségarcía, mx), Tom Burr (Artist, Bortolami Gallery). Moderated by Stephanie Cristello, Director of Programming, EXPO CHICAGO and Editor-in-Chief, THE SEEN
What is the responsibility of formalism in the twenty-first century? This panel will trace the work of contemporary artists whose diverse sculptural practices are inflected, transformed, or reflective of their environment—from public space, to galleries, and institutions. Tracing the implications of visibility and invisibility through work that both adopts and appropriates existing materials, this discussion will address the poetic and political consequences of how works appear (or disappear) in a given context through the lens of object-making.
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.
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