BLOWOUT features a newly commissioned body of work from Canadian artist Liz Magor, informed by a critical juncture in her practice. Manipulating found objects much in the way an author collects fragments of stories, Magor brings together a collection of sculptural “agents”—stuffed toys that she alters in various ways—into a sprawling installation that the artist describes as “a collection of tiny intense narratives.”
This project marks the first time the artist has used Mylar to create support forms for these figures: the clear plastic boxes recall commercial packaging, while their stacked arrangement suggests a rhizomatic architecture. The sculptural form of the shoe also appears for the first time. Thirty pairs of secondhand shoes line a low structure, each displayed within its own box amidst elaborate, sometimes awkward embellishments, each evoking a character or story.
For more than four decades, Magor’s work has quietly dramatized the relationships that develop between objects. Often playing soft against hard, hand-made against mass-produced, she carefully calibrates a tension between tenderness and exposure. Each artwork conjures broad social histories, and is driven by intimate, contingent relationships of power and vulnerability. In bringing such charged objects together, as she does here in BLOWOUT, Magor suggests conditions of weakness and strength, of agency, and of the slow deteriorations that take place, almost unnoticed, over long periods.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication—the artist’s first US catalogue in 10 years—featuring thorough photographic documentation of the new work, newly commissioned texts by Sheila Heti and Mitch Speed, and a conversation between the artist and curators.
BLOWOUT is co-organized by The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, and is co-curated by the Dan Byers, John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director of the Carpenter Center, and Solveig Øvstebø, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.
Liz Magor lives and works in Vancouver. In 2017, her work was the subject of traveling survey at the Kunstverein in Hamburg, Migros Museum, Zurich, and MAMAC, Nice. Other recent solo exhibitions of her work include: Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry - le Crédac, Paris (2016), Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, Montreal (2016), the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2015), Peep-hole, Milan (2015), Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver (2014), and Triangle France, Marseilles (2013). In addition, she has had solo exhibitions at Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2008), the Power Plant, Toronto (2003) and the Vancouver Art Gallery (2002). Magor participated in Documenta 8, Kassel (1987), and the 41st Venice Biennale, Venice (1984).