I Never Loved Your Mind
|Tanya Leighton Gallery
Kurfürstenstraße 156 & 24/25, Berlin
|1 February – 7 March 2020|
Tanya Leighton presents ‘I Never Loved Your Mind’, an exhibition by American artist Sam Anderson. This is Anderson’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.
Sam Anderson’s sculptures resemble prototypes, directly expressed and emptied of unnecessary detail that might over-define their meanings. The show’s title implies a potential, singular narrative, yet Anderson privileges a plurality in which no one protagonist drives the plot. Objects and ideas are collected and arranged in spite of their differences in materiality and characterisation.
Sculptures with titles such as ‘Imagination’ and ‘Opportunists’ illustrate these hard to depict concepts. They do not narrativise them, aiming rather to define them visually. The faceless figures strung together in ‘Opportunists’ move backward and forward, both entering and exiting an open door frame. Likewise, the features of the two sandwich-board men, who serve as the emblem for ‘Imagination’ are so rounded that it is easy to confuse which direction they face. A negotiation takes place between determinate and indeterminate elements. The implication of language paired with minimal gesture creates an evocative psychological space wherein the audience fills in the finer details.
The works include found objects alongside traditional sculptural materials like cast resin and clay. Much like their hand-sculpted counterparts, these found items are at once specific and open-ended. Anderson picks up and turns over colloquialisms and commonplaces complicating their underlying functions. She takes up, for example, the trope of the virtuoso—the archetype of technical mastery, egotism and strategic thinking. There is ‘Maestro’ with a weighty baton—awash with emotion—both tortured and ecstatic, vain and insecure. A critic in a theatre box appears without his usual partner (‘Affair’). ‘Husband’ plays the role of a sought-after prize, strutting to or from work with a briefcase tucked under his arm. Popeye the Sailor—the quintessential strongman—stands atop a curved escalator, shaky in his increasing age, his virile years long behind him. On the other hand, ‘Showgirl’—an assemblage of a silver cup, feathers, and a bullfrog skeleton—points to a disappearing profession that demands virtuosic forms of athleticism and emotional labour.
Traditionally, virtuosity honours specificity and Anderson’s multifaceted approach wilfully avoids definition. Foraging through iconography of the past and present, selecting and rigorously assembling, Anderson examines how perception influences desire and vice versa. ‘I Never Loved Your Mind’ reflects our deceptions and anxieties, our moments of opportunism, pursuits of and reactions to power, and the contours of our interiority. The psychological and interpersonal dramas alluded to in Anderson’s sculptures are universal—not her own, but everybody’s.