AboutSadie Coles HQ is pleased to announce an exhibition of sculpture by North American artist Sam Durant at our off-site location in EC1. The exhibition is curated by Helen van der Meij-Tcheng.
In 2006 Durant made a sculpture series replicating mass-produced plastic lawn chairs in fine Chinese porcelain. It is fitting that the first showing of the full sculpture series is taking place in London, a city known for its history of trade with the far-East and China, and renowned for dealing in valuable Chinese ceramics and antiquities. The titles of the works are expansive: "Unique Mono-Block Resin Chair. Built at Jiao Zhi Studio, Xiamen, China. Produced by Ye Xing You and Du Wei Dong with Craftspeople Xu Liang Jian and Xu Zhi Hong. Kang Youteng, Project manager and Liaison. [various colors]." No longer made by automated injection molding, but rather by hand, the viewer is invited to consider the aesthetic value of one of the world's most democratic objects.
With his transparency of process, as evidenced in the works' titles, and by remaking cheap non-patented, non-copyrighted garden furniture, often mass-produced in China, into one-off, handmade, high-end goods, Durant's sculptures acquire a seriously provocative edge. Undeniably an ironic comment on the condition of globalisation, the works pose many related questions about the nature of mass consumption, the stereotyped saturation of the markets with cheap Chinese goods, as well as the impact of emergent industries on native and foreign cultures.
Durant has used chairs to raise questions about everyday issues before: in 1995, he photographed upended designer chairs in an abrasive pornographic light, a humorous debunking of the carefully ordered modern interior and commodity fetish. His practice is a sharp and calculated one that explores unexpected relationships between a wide variety of cultural and historical phenomena. Often grouping together an assortment of seemingly mundane objects, both found and fabricated, and placing them in the exhibition space, he creates both a poignant and frequently comic commentary on some of the key moments of the 21st Century. Durant's interests are acutely political. Past work has focused on the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panthers; the Kent State, Ohio, student massacre; and the centuries-long struggle between Native Americans and white settlers.