COVER STORY #02
Text by Lorenzo Benedetti
In Nancy Lupo’s work, industrial products and mass-produced goods become the alphabet of an original form of writing, the basis of new configurations and unexpected functions. Rubbermaid Brute containers, objects commonly found in the United States – from private homes to hospitals, from shopping centers to prisons – are deprived of their usual function, becoming containers not of goods or waste, but of organic elements or artistic artifacts, and consequently of further meanings. Their aesthetic and formal neutrality makes them ideal devices for building a new language, rich in interference and overlapping. In her research, Lupo uses Brute containers in a range of different volumes and weights, from 10 to 20 or 55 gallons. The containers – lined, intact, perforated, empty or full of different substances, such as ice, water, cabbage, cherries, and rolls of toilet paper – appear on several occasions in the artist’s work, from the 2015 installation at 1857 in Oslo to the recent 2017 exhibition at Kristina Kite Gallery.
In the case of the work produced for the exhibition Grand Opening (Summer Rhapsody), the Rubbermaid Brute container – in the smallest size available on the market – is completely modified by an almost artisanal combustion and drilling process that transforms the entire surface. The outer shell loses its solidity to become more like an organic membrane and a receptacle of sculptural bronze concretions – 32 miniature versions of the 1971 sculpture by Fritz Koenig known as The Sphere, originally placed in the square of the Twin Towers in New York. Scarcely touched during the collapse of the towers, the sculpture taken as a model has now been relocated to the 9/11 Memorial and become the symbol of resistance and survival. The choice of the number 32 includes many different references, from the number of teeth – another element that survives the passage of time and the destruction of the body – to that of chess. Thus different semantic and temporal levels are combined in the work, in a fusion of archeology, paleontology, history, biology and contemporaneity. The works of Lupo are sculptures, but they are also objects that take on a new function, create a space and are therefore architecture. At the same time they live in space like ghosts, presences, characters endowed with both permanence and temporariness.
Photo by Andrea Baccin