contemporary sculpture

Nicole Wermers, Untitled Chairs (2015)

October 9, 2015

wermers

Last night I dreamed about this, my least favourite piece of art from the 2015 Turner Prize exhibition in Glasgow. What you see, is what I thought I was getting: fur coats on chairs.

The coats are actually sewn around the chairs. So this is presented as a comment on claiming space in an urban environment. And about design. And about feminism. But I wasn’t dreaming about that.

And I don’t think I was dreaming about death, so I must have been dreaming about sex. Although until this point, Wermers’ furry chairs, with their parted fringes, had flown under the erotic radar.

Or was it plainly death, after all? How many creatures were bred for slaughter to make these coats and where are the coat owners? God knows you feel their absence.

The catalogue will draw your attention to the fact the chairs are a Marcel Breuer design classic. But in art sometimes, as in poetry, meaning is just the meat with which the burglar distracts the dog.

Let’s call it a poem, not only to paraphrase TS Eliot there*, but so we can allow it complete semantic ambiguity. (Another crazy aspect of my dream: Wermers was supposedly referencing a popular poet.)

It appears the artist has form with this kind of thing. Double Sand Table is a 2007 work which also plays with modern design. “I had to keep thinking of them”: so says critic and poet Barry Schwabsky.

That is from the catalogue too. Was I dreaming myself into the shoes of a far more eminent writer? Or does this sculptor really have a knack for tickling the unconscious mind and provoking REM?

She’s up against an archive, a choral piece and an assemblage of house fixtures & fittings, so by default Werners’ chairs are the strongest visual image in this year’s show. My eyes are opened.

Nicole Wermers can be seen in Turner Prize 2015 at Tramway, Glasgow, until 17 January 2016.

*T.S. Eliot, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism; Studies in the Relation of Criticism to Poetry in England [London: Faber, 1933]

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