Lizi Sanchez with works by Louise Lawler
Exhibition: 22 June - 28 July 2012
Beyond the Pearl, Lizi Sanchez's first solo show in London, is a response to questions around the purpose of the artist in a 'post post-modern' sphere of artistic production. Are artists mere creators of props, of style and presentation, upon which an idea can be balanced? Or is there still space to celebrate quality of making and engagement with process as much more than merely the means to an end?
Strategies of production, display and consumption are heavily to the fore in current contemporary art practice, and Sanchez takes on the question of her relation to these via a direct engagement with the work of the artist of context par excellence, Louise Lawler. In her photographs Lawler proposes that it is the complex network of value systems surrounding an artwork that define it. 'Lawler's photographs emphasize that all artworks are continually restaged in the present; their meaning is not fixed within the object but open to the circumstances and readings at the moment of reception by a spectator' (Ann Goldstein). By incorporating Lawler's works into her installation, Sanchez seeks both to acknowledge and challenge this proposition.
Sanchez's aesthetic is a heady meeting of pared-down formalism and high camp decoration. Her materials riff on the consumer decorative: gift-wrapping and ribbon, shiny baubles, glitzy stripes. Hung alongside, or incorporated into the structure of the works, Lawler's photographs act as an immediate reflection on these strategies of production. If Lawler's photographs consistently question the artworks' qualities of materiality and transcendence, and thus the intrinsic value of the objects, then Sanchez's explosions of ribbon seem too exuberant an answer to be contained by the question. It is this excess of content that has always allowed for the art work to escape over-definition, an 'it-ness', necessarily slippery or Protean, which permits re-allocation of meaning to continue over decades or even hundreds of years.
Sanchez's new works for Standpoint mutate the mundane conventions of artistic presentation and transportation (eg white walls, wooden crates) into sites for aesthetic extravagance, with nothing in between: a circus performer's 'ta-da!' without the preceding death defying leaps. In directing attention onto these concoctions, Sanchez transforms them into objects of contemplation and intentionality in their own right.