Scuzzy, cynical parables

By GREG COOK  |  October 23, 2013


In the gallery’s back Reading Room, Emily Coxe has installed a group of curious sculptures. She turns rope that she says she found washed up on Block Island beaches into (Pleasantly Nonzero), rough cord coiled and hung from the wall, and Heavy Eye, a stout, 15-foot-long line hung from another wall with a loop spliced into one end and the other end beginning to unravel.

Chute is a wood frame in the shape of an upside-down U dotted with orange and violet. Dangling between the wood bars is a lacy curtain with a pattern of smiley face flowers. Net 2 (Jock) is a triangular wooden frame with strings spanning the middle dripped with blackish stuff. It looks like a lyre assembled from recent junk by some bedazzled old Roman demigod.

Coxe’s sculptures seem part of the style that some have dubbed “unmonumental” or the “new casual” or “provisional” abstraction, basically purposely offhand stuff. It seems a cousin of the random, cut-up assemblage poetry called “flarf.” Stepping back, it strikes me as a brew of glam, 1980s revival, and the social ripples of more than a decade of wars, terrorism, and financial calamity.

Coxe’s work, like much art in this style, often leaves me feeling alienated and adrift. But you sense the guiding mind behind the makeshift but carefully arranged ropes or lyre-things. There’s a sureness to their design — like they’re relics from some future cult rising from our recycled ruins.

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