Nancy Lupo
The Square at Noon bis

Text by Nancy Lupo

JAN KAPS, Cologne

April 11 – June 1, 2019


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“Bench 2019” is the fifth in a series of park benches produced one per year since 2015. All of the benches are scaled versions of existing benches or quasi architectures in civic or commercial space. “Bench 2019” is currently in use at full scale at the two major train stations in Rome. I have been using the word tether to describe the bench sculptures. They are tethers to ongoingness or tethers to specific places and times. The specific place isn’t so important, although it’s not not important. It’s more the flash of a concrete elsewhere, in a memory or as a projection; an incongruity that produces a heightened state of vigilance.

I’ve also thought about the benches as a certain kind of picture frame or body frame or stage.

And then you are going somewhere else, transitioning into something new with only a vague shape. And so in the present, you are a body amongst other bodies, hurtling through uncertain space and gluey time. “The Square at Noon” is a meeting point; the shadow and its object, you and I, flesh and bone, bone and spirit. I was thinking to change the title to “Method Acting,” but in the end I’m going to leave it.

“Teller,” “ReTeller,” “I,” and “U, Untitled” are made from basswood, bamboo skewers, Elmer’s Glue and a range of toilet papers and paper placemats from the 1960s to the present. The numbers configure, however abstractly, into telephone numbers. The starting point of the form was a scale model for ten farmers market tents. The number corresponded at the outset to the number of digits in a US telephone number and are drawn with a 9B graphite pencil.

“Caravan, Blazer, Matrix, Prism” and “untitled (Blazer, BC)” and “untitled (Caravan, NL)” are covers that have been sewn to the dimensions of the four cars that had been registered to me prior to a car accident in 2015. The Matrix was totalled, but I walked away more or less fine. The covers have been tailored again to fit on standard folding tables. The pellets and weights that are glued to the surface of the untitled versions unfold as a meditation, an expanding, accumulating nudge and poke towards what and how these tiny points and bits can be.

The serpents came by proximity to the black swans you may have seen appear last June. And those came by algorithm, the result of a lot of googling of “Black Swan Theory” which was prompted by a deep dive into my archives and emails from the past decade. In that process, I ran into a trove of alerts I had set on the phrase, “A Failure of the Imagination,” which I first heard used in the 9/11 commission report published in 2007. In it, the official cause of 9/11 was named as “A Failure of the Imagination.” The phrase is a flourish of the poet Donald Rumsfeld and although its use has waxed and waned since 2007, it has been back recently with a vengeance.

“Plan View” is a set of 31 lithographs and a video that simulate the shadows at noon every day from October 5th to November 3rd, 2019, on a set of 16 benches similar to “Bench 2019” as they may be placed at the corner of 6th Street and Hill in Los Angeles. Sixteen benches add up to the 32 stones that we have come to call the Terrazo end pieces. The number 32 in this scheme, again, stands in for the number of teeth in an adult human head. “Plan View” pictures, however abstractly, an open mouth of an imaginary adult human.

I am most interested in how materiality is an onion of surfaces that come into being as a product of a culture, individuals and an individual. This succession of surfaces affects consciousness and relationships through an entwined operation of theater, perception and some kind of ingestion, a process that connects us sensually and erotically to places inside and outside, in different gasps of time, body and being.

Nancy Lupo


Courtesy the artist and Jan Kaps, Cologne

Lo schermo dell’arte
Klosterfelde Edition, Berlin
Various Small Fires, Seoul
Sadie Coles HQ, London
Peres Projects, Berlin
Lulu, Mexico City