blank projects, Cape Town
13.10.2016 – 19.11.2016
On exhibition at blank projects, Kyle Morland’s ‘Assemble’ activates the gallery floor with aluminum, copper, and rubber materials, juxtaposed in loose and playful assemblages. It is Morland’s fourth solo-exhibition at blank projects and unlike his previous exhibition ‘Node’, he aims to breakaway from self imposed guidelines. As a result, the artist successfully establishes a new sculptural discourse in the gallery space with a series of works created from previous explorations. Morland accompanies his sculpture with framed strips of carbothane material and photographs of man-made objects in order to emphasize his continued preoccupation with mechanized processes. In ‘Assemble’, sculptures trap and provoke conversations, stimulating a tense gallery environment. Ranging from small to tall, skinny and wide; these eccentric contraptions crowd the space, lean on the walls, slope, and bend in a variety of angles.
The works in this series are reminiscent of Morland’s previous explorations, however each piece varies in physicality and is different from the next. The individual nature of each work resonates throughout the series, rendering them capable of standing alone. This element is borrowed from the minimalist sculptor Donald Judd, whose goal was to create objects that do not allude to anything beyond their own physical presence. This ideal combatted the principles of traditional sculpture. Judd’s attitude towards traditional sculpture is shown through his method of placing works on the ground as opposed to a plinth. Morland incorporates this aesthetic throughout ‘Assemble’ intending to force viewers to confront the sculptures according to their own material existence.
Each piece strives to be together in one space even though they may not succeed in reaching each other. This concept is borrowed from Louise Bourgeois, a surrealist who explored the relationships between standalone objects in groups. Morland’s pieces Bind and Nude share an uncanny relationship with Bourgeois’ Spring, revealing Morland’s ability to incorporate a range of sculptural references into his practice. Furthermore, many of his pieces share similar attributes and Morland purposely isolates pieces like Bind and Nude because of their similarities. In the piece Still Life he groups zigzagging metal stems in a hollow bar but intentionally isolates one of them, camouflaging a Stem (white) behind a gallery wall.
In the artist’s previous exhibition ‘Node’, Morland showcased his obsession with man made processes. The creation of his work relied on a concise and sophisticated system where he adhered to specific guidelines. Artist Phil Hansen refers to this as Creative Limitation: “the concept of how purposely limiting oneself can actually drive creativity”. Hansen suggests “We need to first be limited in order to become limitless”. Morland seems familiar with this concept and even though he is taking steps to break away from old systems, his current body of work is still derived from previous explorations.
This approach towards creating new ideas from previous works recalls Richard Serra’s philosophy that “work comes from work, onion peel, from onion peel’. Serra asserts that if a body of work exists, the artist can continue to make more work. While ‘Assemble’ signifies Morland’s breakaway from self-imposed guidelines, Serra’s sentiments continue to resonate throughout his practice. Older pieces like False Work translate into Foot; a ninety-degree shaped bar resting on the gallery floor. The angular contraption that is Joined resembles a less complex Black Passed. Previous works combined with a vernacular of minimalist aesthetic enable Morland to explore the boundless nature of contemporary sculpture.
The title of each piece is drawn from one of its key characteristics. This is one of the many strategies Morland develops as he continues to shift away from previous practices. For example, Glitch is an assemblage of raw metal boxes joined together as if resembling the malfunction of a mechanized process. Still Life’s zigzagging appearance is a metaphor for a bouquet of traditionally painted flowers.
A particularly unusual piece is a spiraling bronze sculpture of feces titled Fibonacci’s Spiral residing in the back of blank projects’ space. Its presence is hidden and just like any other fecal matter on the ground one doesn’t spot it until you’re at least a foot away from stepping on it. It’s almost safe to assume that its location is deliberate. A more thorough investigation of its presence reveals that this piece isn’t on blank projects’ website. Surely, a system of mathematics responsible for the golden ratio reduced to the shape of fecal matter must be interpreted as an attack on systems and processes or perhaps, an attack on how viewers associate meanings to sculpture beyond its physical presence. This piece sets the tone for this new chapter in his practice and implicates the lack of seriousness one must have while navigating the meaning behind the works in this exhibition.
Perhaps Morland’s motives to dismantle his own systems of thought are a critique on self-imposed guidelines to draw attention to their limitations. This new methodology suggests that the audience must accept the lack of cohesion in this series in the name of seeking freedom in exploring and expressing a vernacular of sculptural style. Negotiating the meaning behind this series is possibly a metaphor for eschewing particular modes of thought when evaluating the nature of sculpture’s materiality.