Alice Könitz


Taco Stand; Shelf; Amt für Außendienst (Office for external affairs): The titles of Alice Konitz's new pieces, case studies for the relation between exterior and interior space, proclaim an interest in architectural structures and units while wittily suggesting that sculpture, whose materiality also structures and problematizes such spatial dynamics, is an external affair as much as anything else, with its own politics and economy.

Taco Stand, 2000, stands in strange, funky relation to any actual taco stand: An orange styrofoam cooler decorated with amoebic forms made of blue paper rests on reflective film near a kind of skeletal screen or room divider hung with a couple of foam octagons. The reflection on the film presents an imaginary, represented space that can be seen but not entered; the screen or divider folds and separates the actual space in the gallery but remains transparent. Both elements of the piece are echoed and transformed in Untitled, 2001, hand-cut black vinyl octagonal decals attached to the gallery window, honeycombing it and underscoring its transparent division from the space outside. Like many of the best young sculptors in Los Angeles, Konitz uses the medium to investigate the relation between actual space and represented or mental space, to diagram and coordinate these different but complexly related kinds of space. Developing what could be seen as an idiosyncratic vocabulary of materials (styrofoam, candies, w ax drippings, cardboard) and concerns (architecture/sculpture, chance accumulations/grids), Konitz pitches her formal investigations to allow her work to resonate poetically ("taco stand" connotes something with a make-shift relation to a restaurant; stand suggests something family-run, not Taco Bell).

Hanging from the ceiling by a rope rigged to a series of pulleys was Shelf, 2000, an arc joining the perpendicular planes of a corner. Painted dark brown, the shelf was made of bamboo rods and cardboard: One part formed a kind of corridor; on the other side, the shelf held an orange flashlight and a styrofoam Jack in the Box cup. Playing more powerfully and subtly and goofily with the relation between architecture and sculpture than some of the other pieces on view, Shelf demonstrates that understanding how something works or is made may not solve why it does what it does--why her shelf as art (and not in service to practicality) can exist somewhere between useless and useful.

Not every piece in the show worked with equal deftness. Amt für Außendienst, zoon, for all its provocative components (its various levels, the way it leans into the wall), remained more obscure than suggestive or complex: Where Shelf's architectonics intensified its sculptural form, Amt fur Außen- dienst's experiment with referential specificity, like the "soapdish" at the back of the office, remained too inertly decorative. But the small sculptural pieces in the back gallery, at once models and studies, were completely satisfying on their own. Constructed of cardboard and paper, some with additions of other materials, they deployed many of Konitz's favorite forms--one was a petite room divider made of orange cellophane; another, "The Quiz Team" Model, 2000, a miniature set for a game show, with faces drawn in pen on the "panels" decorating the set. With these clever improvisations, as with her best work, Konitz showed that the scope of her project will change and develop with rapidity and daring, and in ways unexpected--a streamlined, cardboard-and-wood DIY baroque.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Artforum International Magazine, Inc.